Nets star Kyrie Irving was not at the HSS Training Center on Wednesday, barring her from playing or even practicing at home because of her refusal to comply with the city’s vaccination mandate. And neither his coach nor his closest friends at the Nets had a clue – or if – this would change, and weren’t going to pressure him to do so.
“No, I don’t go out to give advice,” said teammate Kevin Durant. “It is his decision; That’s her choice. We all respected it. It is much bigger than hoops. So I don’t feel comfortable talking to him about such things. But I’m just here to support and come here and do my job as one of the team leaders, and I’m confident when things make sense and I hope to figure it out. “
It is not clear whether this belief is based on assurances from his friend. At least it appears that Irving hasn’t ruled out the idea of getting vaccinations out of hand, and Durant is still trying to maintain an optimistic attitude.
“I personally am, yes; because I want him to be a part of this group. He is a special player and person and we want him to be a part of this group. But a lot of things are out of our control We will let him figure it out for himself,” Durant said. “But that doesn’t mean I am going to say that I don’t want him in the team. That’s a big part of what we do. “
Until Irving is vaccinated (or the mandate expires), he will not be able to participate in any team activities at home. Now with ESPN, it will cost him $381,181 per missed game, according to ex-Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks.
Brooklyn’s preseason home opener is Friday versus Milwaukee. And when Durant was asked if Irving’s holdout could extend into the regular season, he didn’t rule it out.
“I don’t know,” Durant said. “I’m not really trying to get into it, because it’s a lot bigger than me and each one of us personally. It’s a person’s personal judgment on his or her well-being. So I have to sit back, just observe.” Have to do it and see what’s going on and keep coming here and practicing every day and going to every representative. Everybody has that mindset.”
After Durant and Irving talked about joining forces, they came to Brooklyn together in June 2019. After losing to the Bucks in Game 7 of last season’s second-round — when Irving suffered an injury — he now has a chance to win.
But Irving’s absence not only forces Steve Nash to run practice at home without him, it could very well extend to home games if he doesn’t rest.
“Kyrie is a big part of this team,” said Bruce Brown. “We want him back. We can’t wait for him to come back.”
While the Nets have denied going out of town to practice to accommodate Irving, they also can’t get him to practice with the G-League Long Island Nets. They don’t start camping until October 25, or until November 6 of the season.
If Irving can’t practice at home with his teammates, the options are limited.
“I don’t know the answer, but I think it will be his own diet,” Nash said. “We haven’t discussed it yet. We’ll see. If it’s something that we discuss, I don’t think it’s something we’ll share with everyone we’ve asked him to do. It’s not something we’ve discussed.”
There are people in the organization who expected Irving to be vaccinated by last Monday’s Media Day, much less the opening day. And while there are some personal constraints that it hasn’t happened yet, they are still eager to get him back.
“I’m looking forward to having Kyrie a part of our team,” Durant said. “Maybe I’m just naive, maybe, but that’s how I feel. But everyone here has so much confidence in themselves and their group that we can do something special if we keep building.