The Kyrie Irving-Nets drama has stirred up countless questions. The Post’s Brian Lewis answers some of the most commonly asked questions:
Q: Does this mean that Irving will not be playing for the Nets this entire season?
A: With Irving, everything is possible. His stance against vaccination is strong, but Nets owner Joe Tsai is going the other way. “It’s just part of social responsibility,” Tsai told The Post. In the end, only one of them is the owner. The best bet to see Irving play again may be to either change its mandate to New York or find loopholes in existing ones, like “non-resident artist” language.
Q: How much money would he have to lose if Irving continued without vaccinations?
A: Brooklyn will pay Irving for the Road Games. Still, he could lose $380,000 (or 1/91.6th of his salary) for every home game he missed under the “reasonable cause” clause, so over $17 million. Neither Irving’s camp nor the NBPA returned calls. The union will likely fight with fair cause, but paying Irving to a road game could reduce his ability to file a complaint.
Q: How are his Nets teammates viewing his decision in private? After all, they’re the favorites to win the NBA championship—as long as Irving is playing.
A: Unclear, Tuesday is a day off from practice. It is certain that Kevin Durant and James Harden were implicated in the decision, and Durant explicitly stated that it was better not to practice at home and be a part-time player: “We want him here for the whole thing. We Want him to come here for games, home games, practice, away games, shootarounds, all of that. Hopefully, we’ll figure that out.”
Q: Can the Nets trade him with a team in a city that doesn’t have the same vaccination laws?
A: Sure; But it will be at a fraction of a penny on the dollar. And who would trade for that had Irving torpedoed his worth? Teams recall that he was going AWOL for two weeks last season, and now wonder what will happen if he blows off his physical, or if their cities come up with similar vaccine mandates.
Q: If Irving doesn’t play the regular season this year, he will only play 81 out of a possible 241 games over three years, including the playoffs. Do the Nets regret signing him?
A: Not per se, because it wasn’t done in a vacuum. Signing Irving paved the way for Durant to get it as a package deal, and that pair’s appearance landed him as Harden. Durant has signed on to a long-term extension, so it paid off. But the Nets are saying on the outside that Irving has to be preferred so that they can bring him back to the floor.
Q: Just a few days ago, the Nets resigned to allow Irving to be a part-time member of the team. What changed in the last few days?
A: When The Post asked GM Sean Marks the exact question, he replied that he didn’t want to rush and weighed every possible option on the table or on the way, he finally summed it up: “We’re not looking at those partners. For those who are going to be half-time.” Finally, he and Tsai made the final call.
Q: What does this mean for Harden’s future? Durant has signed his extension, but Harden hasn’t – and his deadline is next week. Does he still definitely want to be on the Nets team without Irving longer?
A: Waiting until after the season to sign an extension could guarantee Harden an additional $62 million, which just sounds like good business. Tsai told The Post that the former MVP has already said he wants to stay in the long run. But ESPN reports that 76ers GM Daryl Morey — who was with Harden in Houston — may try to get him out of Brooklyn, so it bears watching.
Q: What does the starting lineup for Opening Night look like now?
A: The defensive-minded Bruce Brown started opposite Harden in place of Irving. With more producer than sixth person Patty Mills Brown, it might be logical that she and Jevon Carter serve as Harden’s backups.
Q: Can Irving retire?
A: Again, trying to predict Irving is like trying to figure out which direction the wind will blow a year from now. But according to Mark Stein and Fox Sports, as much as the money he will lose, there is a feeling in NBA circles that he will at least consider it.