That remains the biggest question facing the Nets: Will Kyrie Irving play this season?
The seven-time All-Star has missed a third of the 2021-22 campaign and it’s unclear when (or if) he will return to the field. According to New York City guidelines, unvaccinated Knicks and Nets players are not allowed into their home arenas to play games, and Irving is not currently compliant with COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Before the start of the season, Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks announced that Irving would not play for the Nets until he “eligible to be a full participant.”
But perhaps something has changed recently. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports Second that there is a “new sense of optimism” about the possibility of Irving’s return.
Why are the Nets optimistic about Kyrie Irving playing this season?
In November, New York City’s Mayor-elect Eric Adams made it clear that the city will not change its policies, so there are only two options for Irving and the Nets: Either Irving is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or the team allows him to become a part-time player. Charania did not indicate the reason behind the optimism, only noting that the Brooklyn players and coach “wants Irving back to the team as soon as possible.”
There has also been a “raised level of enthusiasm” between Irving and Kevin Durant, who acknowledged the team feel the effects of Irving’s absence in the midst of some early-season struggles.
“Yes, we miss Kyrie. We do,” Durant said in October. “He was part of our team, but for the most part, we made great pictures. We went. deep into the paint. It’s just a matter of us taking them down. I think it’s coming.”
After being asked about the difference between last season’s offensive teams compared to this one, Kevin Durant joked “Yes, we miss Kyrie”
He added “It’s just a matter of us taking them down, I think it’s coming” pic.twitter.com/UhLFbBSlCG
– Nets Video (@SNYNets) October 28, 2021
Irving sparked rumors of a comeback by posting a video of him wearing Nike Kyrie 8 shoes shortly after Charania’s report was published. However, it is possible that this is simply a case of Irving promoting the latest version of his sneakers.
How Kyrie Irving Could Return to the Nets
To become a “full participant” for the Nets, Irving will need to receive two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If he remains unvaccinated, Brooklyn could let Irving play road games and sit out home games. He will also be available to practice at the group’s facility as the city determines that the facility qualifies as “private office building” rather than an indoor gym.
While it seems unlikely that Adams will lift the assignment in the near future, Nets coach Steve Nash has previously said that, if the city changes its policy, Irving will brought back into the fold and not necessarily vaccinated.
“I would probably say it out loud, but I think if the mission changes he will certainly be welcome back,” Nash said in November.
Steve Nash on Kyrie Irving’s status if mayor-elect Eric Adams lifts New York City’s immunization mandate:
“If the mission changes, he will certainly be welcome back” pic.twitter.com/RktJwZkS7a
– Nets Video (@SNYNets) November 3, 2021
Can the Nets Trade Kyrie Irving?
Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported Tuesday that Brooklyn “was open to discussing transactions for Irving,” but none of the Nets chats generated “significant traction.” It would be a huge shock if the Nets decide to trade Irving, not only because they want him to help them chase the championship, but also because potential suitors won’t have any guarantees that Irving will stay. after this season.
Irving has two years left and about $71 million left on his current contract, but he has a selection of players for the 2022-23 season. If Brooklyn swaps Irving, he could play through the 2021-22 campaign and then pick another team in free agency.
If Irving still hasn’t been added deep into the season, the Nets may be forced to change their stance. At this point, however, it’s hard to envision Brooklyn moving Irving, especially if the team is genuinely feeling optimistic about his return.
The upcoming schedule will take place from 2021-22
(All Eastern Ages)
|December 14||compared to the Raptors||7:30 pm||–|
|December 16th||compared to 76ers||7:30 pm||NBA TV|
|December 18||compared to magic||7:30 pm||–|
|December 19||compared to Nuggets||7:30 pm||NBA TV|
|December 21||compared to witches||7:30 pm||TNT|
|December 23||at Trail Blazers||10 give me||–|
|December 25th||at Lakers||8pm||ABC / ESPN|
|December 27||at Clippers||10:30pm||NBA TV|
|December 30||compared to 76ers||7 pm||NBA TV|
|January 1||compared to Clippers||7:30 pm||–|