It’s nonetheless the largest query hanging over the Nets: Will Kyrie Irving play this season?
The seven-time All-Star has already missed one-third of the 2021-22 marketing campaign, and it is unclear when (or if) he will return to the courtroom. Under New York City’s tips, unvaccinated Knicks and Nets gamers are not allowed to enter their house arenas for video games, and Irving is presently not compliant with the COVID-19 well being and security protocols. Prior to the begin of the season, Brooklyn common supervisor Sean Marks introduced that Irving would not play for the Nets till he’s “eligible to be a full participant.”
But maybe one thing has modified lately. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Monday that there’s a “renewed sense of optimism” about Irving’s potential return.
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Why are the Nets optimistic about Kyrie Irving taking part in this season?
New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams made it clear in November that the metropolis wouldn’t be altering its insurance policies, so there are solely two choices for Irving and the Nets: Either Irving will get totally vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19, or the crew permits him to be a part-time participant. Charania did not point out the reasoning behind the optimism, solely noting that Brooklyn gamers and coaches “need Irving to rejoin the crew as quickly as attainable.”
There has additionally been an “elevated degree of enthusiasm” between Irving and Kevin Durant, who admitted the crew was feeling the impact of Irving’s absence amid some early-season struggles.
“Yeah, we do miss Kyrie. We do,” Durant stated in October. “He’s part of our crew, however for the most half, we have been producing nice photographs. We’ve been entering into the paint. It’s only a matter of us knocking them down. I feel it’s going to come.”
After being requested about the distinction between the groups offense final season as in contrast this season, Kevin Durant jokingly says “Yeah, we do miss Kyrie”
He provides “It’s only a matter of us knocking them down, I feel it’s going to come” pic.twitter.com/UhLFbBSlCG
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) October 28, 2021
Irving fueled rumors of a return by posting a video of himself sporting the Nike Kyrie 8 shoe shortly after Charania’s report was printed. However, it is attainable that this was merely a case of Irving selling the newest version of his sneaker.
How Kyrie Irving may return to the Nets
In order to be a “full participant” for the Nets, Irving would want to obtain two doses of both the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If he stays unvaccinated, Brooklyn may let Irving play in highway video games and sit out house video games. He would even be out there for practices at the crew’s facility as a result of the metropolis decided that it certified as a “private office building” relatively than an indoor health club.
While it appears extremely unlikely that Adams lifts the mandate in the close to future, Nets coach Steve Nash has beforehand stated that, if the metropolis did change its insurance policies, Irving can be introduced again into the fold and would not essentially have to be vaccinated.
“I is perhaps talking out of flip, however I feel if the mandate modifications, he’d be welcome again for certain,” Nash stated in November.
Steve Nash on the standing of Kyrie Irving if mayor-elect Eric Adams lifts the New York City vaccine mandate:
“If the mandate modifications, he’d be welcome again for certain” pic.twitter.com/RktJwZkS7a
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) November 3, 2021
Could the Nets commerce Kyrie Irving?
Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported Tuesday that Brooklyn “has been open to discussing trades for Irving,” however none of the Nets’ conversations have generated “vital traction.” It can be a significant shocker if the Nets determined to commerce Irving, not solely as a result of they need him to assist them of their pursuit of a championship, but additionally as a result of potential suitors would not have any ensures Irving would keep past this season.
Irving has two years and roughly $71 million left on his present contract, however he has a participant choice for the 2022-23 season. If Brooklyn did commerce Irving, he may play out the 2021-22 marketing campaign after which select one other crew in free company.
If Irving stays unvaccinated deep into the season, the Nets could also be compelled to vary their stance. As of proper now, although, it is arduous to examine Brooklyn transferring Irving, particularly if the crew really feels optimistic about his return.
Nets upcoming schedule 2021-22
(All occasions Eastern)