While the Brooklyn Nets remain uncertain about the status of Kyrie Irving’s availability for all home games this season, fellow superstar Kevin Durant believes the situation will be resolved.
“I’m envisioning Kyrie being a part of our team. Maybe I’m just naive, but that’s just how I feel,” Durant said. “But I think everybody here has that confidence in themselves, in our group, that if we keep building, we can do something special.”
Irving faces the ever-increasing possibility of not being allowed to play at Barclays Center — home of the Nets — along with the Knicks’ Madison Square Garden and the Golden State Warriors Chase Center due to New York and California COVID-19 protocols that prohibit unvaccinated players to compete within indoor venues.
Initially, it was believed that Irving would get the vaccine in order to fully participate with a Nets team that — at full strength — is a heavy favorite to win the NBA title this season. However, a report from ESPN earlier this week revealed that “hope is waning.”
Head coach Steve Nash added that Irving’s status for the season is “up in the air.”
Should Irving continue to forego vaccination, the Nets will then be faced with the decision of whether or not to carry him on the roster and allow him to play in states that don’t require vaccination.
If that does happen, Durant will remain supportive of his teammate.
“He is dealing with something personal right now,” Durant said. “And while he is dealing with that, we are going to focus on us here in the gym and keep working. When they are ready to figure that out, he’ll figure it out.
“I mean he’s a special player so it is going to be hard to duplicate what he brings. But professional sports are about the next-man-up mentality.”
Irving also stands to lose a considerable amount of money should he not get the vaccine, based on an agreement Monday between the NBA and players association. For not following protocols, the 29-year-old could forfeit approximately $380,000 for every home game he misses beginning with Friday’s preseason home tilt against the Milwaukee Bucks.