After missing the Nets’ previous three games due to “personal reasons,” Irving’s state of mind was seemingly uncertain — or at least that was the feeling after not hearing from the six-time All-Star.
When asked about the matter following Sunday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, it was clear teammate Kevin Durant didn’t have much to say, nor did he want to say something out of order or without his point guard’s approval.
Over the weekend, Nets head coach Steve Nash did, however, confirm that Irving has been in communication with the organization, telling reporters he plans on keeping those conversations private before adding, “But I’m sure you’ll hear from him at some point.”
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NBA Investigating Video of Kyrie Irving’s Maskless Event
In the now-viral video shared by SB Nation’s Billy Reinhardt on Twitter on Monday night, Irving is seen alongside his sister, Asia, at what appears to be a family birthday party.
As Reinhardt points out, given the nature of what has gone on around the league due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this is not a good look for Irving to be seen without a mask, surrounded by other maskless attendees at the event. His decision could now result in him missing more games for the reeling 5-6 Nets, losers of four of their last six contests dating back to New Year’s Day.
Due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the league could ultimately sentence Irving to a mandatory 14-day quarantine, though no ruling has been made as of writing.
Irving Could Miss up to 3 More Games for Nets
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Irving will not rejoin the Nets this week – which confirms he will miss his fourth straight game while the NBA reviews footage of the birthday gathering.
The NBA Board of Governors will hold a special meeting Tuesday, according to ESPN.
If Irving is found in violation of league protocols and doesn’t return until next Monday’s tilt against the Milwaukee Bucks, the former No. 1 overall pick would stand to forfeit at least $1.2 million in salary for the team’s next three games.
NBA Planning to Tighten Health & Safety Protocols
The league plans to tighten the protocols in an attempt to avoid additional absences related to contact tracing. Still, in the end, it comes down to the players; a valiant effort from the players to be more responsible during days off, wear a mask and avoiding close contact with large groups of people.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe also reported that “multiple players who previously tested positive for the coronavirus have recently tested positive a second time.”
Irving’s video exemplifies the sort of carelessness that the league was worried about heading out of last season’s Disney Bubble and into the 2020-21 campaign. However, the NBA’s recent slew of postponed games – three in the last two days – had to have been something league officials anticipated.
Tightening up the laws for players could materialize into fewer positive COVID-19 test results, but re-evaluating their health and safety protocols, as Woj reported, is a good place to start. If not, teams will ultimately be forced to compete without their best players, which in most cases is the difference between a win and a loss.