The Brooklyn Nets have a difficult decision to make as Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status continues to hang over the organisation. While undoubtedly a talented player, could the Nets actually get rid of Kyrie Irving in the near future?
The Brooklyn Nets were one of the favorites to win it all heading into the new NBA season.
However, Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status has placed the organization and one of its star players at an impasse that looks unlikely to be settled any time soon.
Irving is currently unvaccinated against covid-19, and seemingly unwilling to get the vaccine.
Mandates in New York City (and San Francisco) require home team players to have proof of vaccination in order to play in arenas.
That means if Kyrie remains unvaccinated he could miss all of the Nets’ home games this season, including the playoffs.
Many have called for the Nets to trade Irving, including Shaquille O’Neal who recently said, “Whoever owns the Brooklyn Nets, get him up out of here.”
But will the Nets actually get rid of Kyrie?
Kevin Durant could hold the key to Irving’s future in Brooklyn
Last week, New York City said Irving would be able to train at the Nets’ practice facility, the HSS Training Center, just not actual games.
It goes without saying this is highly unfavourable preparation heading into the new season, and could derail the Nets’ entire season.
As head coach Steve Nash recently said: “We recognize he’s not playing in home games.
“We are going to have to for sure play without him this year. So it just depends on when, where and how much.”
However, it’s Kevin Durant, not Steve Nash, that could hold all the cards in terms of Kyrie’s future in Brooklyn.
It’s evident that KD wants Kyrie to stay with the Nets, with the two-time Finals MVP saying so on 6 October.
“I’m envisioning Kyrie being a part of our team,” Durant told reporters.
Linking up with Kyrie was a big factor in Durant joining the Nets, and it’s clear KD envisioned a championship roster with Irving by his side.
Having said that, things quickly change in the NBA, and even Durant may have to come around to the idea of life without Kyrie should his status hinder the team.
Nets, and KD, willing to make ‘hard decisions’ over Kyrie
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Kevin Durant, as well as James Harden, team governor Joe Tsai, and general manager Sean Marks, would soon weigh in on Kyrie situation and make a group decision.
Whether that means trading Irving remains to be seen, but it seems increasingly unlikely that the Nets are willing to accommodate the point guard playing in only 50% of their games.
Kyrie at crossroads in career
If Kyrie decides to remain unvaccinated, the Nets clearly have a difficult decision on their hands.
Irving is an exceptional player, but for many the Nets are still a championship contender without him.
However, the ultimate decision on what to do will be up to ownership. And if they deem the Nets title contenders without Kyrie, they may conclude that the Kyrie juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.
But where does that leave Kyrie?
The best solution for all involved would be Irving getting vaccinated.
However, despite early optimism from the organization, this looks more unlikely than ever.
A trade could be one possible outcome, with some suggesting a Ben Simmons-for-Kyrie Irving trade.
Whether the 76ers would want to swap one headache for another though, remains unclear.
Furthermore, according to Marc Stein and Fox Sports’ Nick Wright, ‘there is also a belief in some corners of the league that Irving would retire, or at least deeply ponder it, if Brooklyn suddenly traded him.’
Whatever happens, there’s big decisions to be made on both sides.
But for the Nets, it’s clear that any decision will be made with the team in mind, even if that means losing a player as talented as Kyrie.