Brooklyn Nets Talk: Kyrie Irving Will Miss First Preseason Game Due To New York’s COVID-19 Rule
Nets set to miss Kyrie in preseason game against Bucks
It is indeed a frustrating circumstance, but it has become official that Brooklyn Nets superstar guard Kyrie Irving will be sitting out the team’s home preseason game against the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. Under the New York city’s COVID-19 vaccination protocols, unvaccinated NBA players will not be allowed to participate in games and practices, which puts Kyrie and the Nets organization at a very difficult situation.
As per a joint column written by Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst for the ESPN, it was pointed out that the Nets organization is still not sure as to whether Kyrie will eventually get vaccinated or not at the some point of the upcoming 2021-22 NBA Season. Since Brooklyn is part of New York, an NBA city that does not allow unvaccinated players to participate in home games and home practices, it means that the Nets will be missing one of their superstars for half of the season and even more when they enter the more important games in the playoffs where playing in your home court is always an advantage.
If Irving remains firm in his stance not to get vaccinated, this will put the Nets front office in a tricky situation on whether to try to find a trade partner for their star guard’s services and send him to a city where unvaccinated players are allowed to play. Of course, there is also the fact that this team is still a championship contender even without Kyrie’s services. The Nets still have the luxury of fielding in two superstars in Kevin Durant and James Harden, and they also have other quality veterans such as Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Paul Millsap.
As per the column by Wojnarowski and Windhorst, it is being pointed out that the Nets front office are still in the process of deciding whether they will agree on the possibility that Kyrie will only be a part-time player for them in the upcoming season.
The Brooklyn Nets remain unclear on All-Star guard Kyrie Irving's ultimate intentions to get vaccinated and have made no decision on whether the organization will accommodate him as a part-time player this season, sources told ESPN on Tuesday. There had been previous optimism that Irving would get vaccinated and fulfill local governmental mandates allowing him to practice and play in New York this season, but that hope is waning, and Irving's continued resistance to vaccination has the Nets preparing for the possibility that they'll be without him for home practices and games for the foreseeable future, sources told ESPN.
If Irving remains unvaccinated, the Nets could soon be faced with a decision on whether they'll allow Irving to come and go with the team in and out of New York -- or just keep him sidelined all together, sources said. The Nets have been outwardly supportive of Irving's process to consider vaccination and believe they've listened, supported and educated him, but the franchise's collective patience will be increasingly tested the longer that Irving stops short of committing to join the team on a full-time basis. The Nets believe they're still a championship contender with a roster constructed around Kevin Durant and James Harden and could ultimately have to make hard decisions on Irving's future should he remain unvaccinated and unable to play in Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden.
Irving, who just turned 29 years of age last March, is one of the best guards that the league has to offer right now. He is coming off another productive season in which he put up an all-around stat line of 26.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 0.7 blocks per game, including an efficient set of shooting percentages of a career-best 51% overall clip from the field, an excellent 40% clip from the three-point line, and a tremendous 92% clip from the free throw line. It was his second year with the Nets, but it was unfortunate because he had to sit out the team’s most important games against the Bucks in the second round of last year’s playoffs.
Irving, who first suited up for the Cleveland Cavaliers and won a championship with former teammates LeBron James and Kevin Love when they defeated Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 NBA Finals, also played for the Boston Celtics for two seasons from 2017 to 2019. Kyrie has already been selected to the All-Star Game seven times, was named as the 2011-12 NBA Rookie of the Year and the 2013-14 NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, and was named three times to the coveted All-NBA Team, which is a testament to how great Kyrie is as a player.
With his ability to score from everywhere on the court, Kyrie has been one of the best scoring guards of his era. After a promising rookie year in which he put up an excellent stat line of 18.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per contest, the 6-foot-2 spitfire gunner would then average at least 20 points on the scoring column in the next years that followed. His best scoring season came in his first year with the Nets when he put up a tremendous stat line of 27.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.5 blocks per contest.
As per a column put up by SB Nation’s Nets Daily, Nets superstar shooting guard James Harden expressed a hint of optimism in a way that he still believes that things will eventually work out in the end and Kyrie will still play for the team in the near future. Harden, who made his way to the Nets camp via a mid-season trade last season, also took the time to point out that Kyrie is a huge part of their success last year and that will not change in the upcoming 2021-22 NBA Season.
“If he’s not on the court, yeah [it would hurt us]. He’s one of our best players and one of our leaders,” Harden said after practice Thursday. “I want him to be on the team, of course,” Harden told reporters when asked if he hopes Irving would get vaccinated. “He’s been a huge part since I’ve been here, a huge part of our success. The success we did have last year, we were kind of finding a rhythm, that chemistry that we’ve built. I can remember last year that one road trip we had, me and Kyrie. He’s just a special talent that you don’t really see often, so of course I would want him to be on the team. He’s one of the reasons why I came here.
It’ll work itself out, however it works,” Harden added, offering some optimism. “For us, it’s just keep chopping wood, keep treading water. Every single day we focus on things we can control, things that we can get better at. Our focus tomorrow is for us as a team, myself, Kevin and the entire organization is getting better tomorrow in the preseason game, and after that, every single day. Whatever happens, happens. But we’ve got to focus on what we can control.”
With how uncertain the Irving situation is right now, the Nets will be banking on their two other superstars to lead the charge for them. One of them is James Harden, who is a former Most Valuable Player in the NBA. In the 36 games that he played for the Nets last season, the lefty shooting guard put up a tremendous all-around stat line of 24.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 10.9 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.8 blocks per contest. He also produced a decent set of shooting percentages that included a 47% overall clip from the field, an excellent 36% clip from the three-point line, and an 86% clip from the charity stripe.
Along with the star power that Harden gives to the Nets, there is also the fact that they have another former Most Valuable Player in Kevin Durant. Durant, an eleven-time NBA All-Star and four-time scoring champion, put up an outstanding all-around stat line of 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 0.7 steals, and 1.3 blocks per contest. He also produced a very efficient set of shooting percentages that included a tremendous 53% overall clip from the field, a stellar 45% clip from the three-point line, and an outstanding 88% clip from the free throw line.
Durant, who took the entirety of the 2019-20 NBA season to recover from an Achilles injury, was absolutely a monster last season. On top of his excellent performance in the regular season, Durant was even better in the playoffs when he put up incredible averages of 34.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.6 blocks per contest, while also producing a very efficient set of shooting percentages that included an outstanding 51% overall clip from the field, a stellar 40% clip from beyond the arc, and an efficient 87% clip from the free throw line.
As per a column written by Alex Schiffer for The Athletic, Durant pointed out that he and his teammates are very hopeful that Irving can still come back this season and help the team win the championship. He said that while it is true that his co-star is working on something that is very personal right now, Durant also pointed out that he and his teammates will not just wait for Kyrie to return. The star forward reiterated that the Nets will continue working in their pursuit to win it all this upcoming 2021-22 NBA Season.
“We are anxious to be a whole team and Ky is a huge part of what we do. But he’s dealing with something personal right now, and while he’s dealing with that, we’re going to focus on us here in the gym and keep working. And when he’s ready to figure that out, he’ll figure it out. I want him to be part of this group,” Durant said. “He’s a special, special player and person and we want him to be part of this group. But a lot of stuff is out of our control, and we’ll let him figure that out for himself. But that doesn’t mean I’m gonna say that I don’t want him on the team, you know what I’m saying? He’s a huge part of what we do. But guys have got to step up in his absence, be who they are and move forward.
I’m not really trying to get too involved in it, because I mean it’s far bigger than myself and each one of us individually,” Durant said. “This is one man’s personal decision on his well-being. So I’ve got to sit back and just observe and see what’s happening and keep coming in here and practice every day and going every rep. I think everybody has that mentality.”
As for the supporting cast for this Nets squad, it is without a doubt that they are one of the strongest and most experienced in this facet of their roster makeup. Among the new faces for the Nets this upcoming season are veteran combo wing DeAndre’ Bembry, young big man Devontae Cacok, point guard Jevon Carter, veteran versatile combo forward James Johnson, veteran sweet-shooting point guard Patty Mills, and veteran big man Paul Millsap.
On top of all these new names, the Nets also managed to bring back the core of their supporting cast last season, including Blake Griffin and Joe Harris. LaMarcus Aldridge, a former All-Star who initially had a career-ending health scare that cut short his campaign last season, is also returning to the Nets roster this season. This is a very good roster build-up for a squad that is spearheaded by a good young head coach in Steve Nash.
As per a separate column written by Alex Schiffer for The Athletic, Nets team owner Joe Tsai chimed in his thoughts on his growing relationship with Nash, the head coach of the NBA team that he owns. Tsai pointed out that the Nets front office and ownership are very much thrilled to have Nash as the coach of this team, and their decision to bring him in paid dividends as they had a relatively successful season last year.
I don’t worry about it. First, Steve’s our coach. We’re totally thrilled to have him be the head coach of the Nets. I think he’s got a multi-year runway. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have him. I also got to know him as a person. So I would consider him a friend and he considers me a friend. That’s why I invited him into ownership of the Las Vegas lacrosse team. So whether or not he’s the coach of the Nets, I would have asked him anyway because he actually played lacrosse. He’s a multi- sport athlete. He’s by far the most diverse multi-sport athlete I’ve ever seen. From soccer to tennis, basketball and lacrosse.
I enjoy seeing him, hanging out with him, it’s very natural. And also, indoor lacrosse is a Canadian-type sport. They play a lot of that in Canada. And I’m also Canadian. So we’re fellow Canadians. Having Wayne Gretzky was great. Who else has Wayne Gretzky as one of your investors? So I feel quite confident that whatever happens here in basketball, Steve is going to be a friend for life, and I’d love to partner with him on this and more things as well.
The Nets won their first preseason game in their current campaign, hacking out a 123-97 win against the Los Angeles Lakers. They have three more games to play in the preseason as they are set to face Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers, and Karl Anthony-Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves.