The Brooklyn Nets announced Tuesday morning that Kyrie Irving will not practice or play with the team in any capacity until he’s eligible. Local government mandates restrict any players or staff in New York, Los Angeles, and Golden State from entering team facilities without at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot.
Governing owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks would not tolerate Irving on a part-time basis. Marks explained that he addressed it with superstars Kevin Durant and James Harden, but the final decision would come from himself and Tsai.
“We will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability,” Marks explained in a statement.
The Sports Section learned that Tsai is currently in China and won’t be back in New York until the end of the month. Sources last year explained that Tsai was “unhappy” with Irving when he disappeared from the team and was spotted violating COVID protocols at a club for his sister’s birthday.
The Nets will pay Irving for the away games he’s missing, avoiding any conflict with the NBPA regarding financial implications.
“The only salary he [Kyrie] is going to lose is for the home games,” Marks said on a press conference call via Zoom.
With Irving’s situation in flux, it’s too early to tell if the Nets would even offer an extension. But they want him back if the circumstances change. That would entail either one dose of the vaccine or local mandates changing.
“Will there be pushback from Kyrie and his camp? I’m sure this won’t be a decision they like.”
In other words: Hold onto your butts. Brooklyn opens the season next Tuesday against the defending champion Bucks.