Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash addressed the media on Sunday and said that the team is not expecting star guard Kyrie Irving to play in home games due to his vaccination status for COVID-19.
“I think we recognize he’s not playing home games,” Nash said. We’re going to have to for sure play without him this year. So it just depends on when, where and how much.”
This marks a change from the Nets’ perspective, as throughout the preseason and training camp they have expressed belief that they would have their entire roster ready for the start of the season. “I won’t get into who it is, but we feel confident in the following several days before camp everybody would be allowed to participate and so forth,” GM Sean Marks said at Media Day.
Now, with opening night just over a week away, the Nets appear resigned to the fact that Irving will not be available for home games by then. And, perhaps, never will be at all this season. Under New York City’s current health mandates, unvaccinated persons are barred from entering large indoor events, gyms or fitness settings. That includes Barclays Center, where the Nets play their home games. Earlier this week, Irving was inactive for the team’s preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
There has been some positive news for the Nets, however, as their training facility was reclassified as a private office. That means it is no longer subject to the COVID-19 mandates, and Irving has been allowed to rejoin the team for practice. He participated in their outdoor event in Brooklyn on Saturday, and was there again for their normal practice on Sunday per Nash.
But until Irving changes his mind about the vaccine, practice is all he’ll be allowed to do, at least in New York City. Per the NBA’s rules, Irving will be eligible to play in road games. How the team decides to handle that, however, remains to be seen.
“It sounds like we may have Kyrie on the road with us, but I’m not sure he’ll be playing since we haven’t seen him for a week,” Nash said on Saturday. “And, obviously, safety first. We’ll make sure he’s not at huge risk of injury. But a lot to be worked through. I mean, we’re just kind of getting information at the same time you guys are, so we’ll see.”
Irving will not make the trip to Philadelphia for the team’s preseason game against the 76ers on Monday, and it’s unclear if they’ll be willing to include him as a part-time player. The Nets open the regular season on Oct. 19 with an away game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Earlier this month, the NBA and the players association appeared to come to an agreement on pay reductions for players who miss games due to local COVID-19 health and safety ordinances. Under the decision, Irving would lose about $380,000 per home game that he misses. The NBPA’s Michele Roberts commented shortly after the initial report, saying players should not be fined if forced to miss games due to their non-vaccination status.
Courtesy: CBS Sports