A day after the Brooklyn Nets determined that star point guard Kyrie Irving will not participate in team activities until he is vaccinated against COVID-19, head coach Steve Nash called the decision “difficult.”
“Everybody had something to say,” Nash told reporters after the Nets’ practice on Wednesday. “It takes time to make decisions like that. This is a difficult decision. But I think it was a solid one and it makes a lot of sense for everyone. “
Nash addressed the team on Wednesday. Starguard James Harden said it’s time to move on without Irving, but they both said they would gladly welcome him.
“We’re just going to move on, and if things change, it would be amazing to have him back in the fold,” Nash said. “It was a delicate situation to have a player come and go like this. There is more clarity and we can focus on the future and move on. “
Irving, 29, has been adamant against getting vaccinated, despite an order from New York City that requires the vaccine if he is going to play or practice with the team at home this season.
“Given the changing nature of the situation and after in-depth deliberation, we have decided that Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to participate,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement on Monday. Tuesday. “Kyrie has made a personal decision and we respect her individual right to choose. Currently, the election restricts your ability to be a full-time team member, and we will not allow any member of our team to participate with part-time availability. “
Harden said he and star forward Kevin Durant spoke with the staff involved in Irving’s decision and that all parties are in agreement.
“Sean, Steve, me, KD, Kyrie, we all had conversations,” Harden said. “Kyrie believes in his beliefs and stands firm and firm on that. And for us, we respect him. We all love Ky. But as far as we are concerned, we have a job to do.
“Individually, myself, I still want to prepare for a championship. And I feel like the whole organization is on the same path and we are all in this as a collective unit. “
The Nets, who lost to eventual NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season, are scheduled to open the regular season in Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
New York’s COVID mandate prohibits unvaccinated people from working or attending events in many indoor spaces, including sports and entertainment venues. Similar rules exist in San Francisco and they will go into effect in Los Angeles on November 29.
Irving’s stance could cost him millions, though the players association could change to challenge salary with holdings on vaccination status.
Marks said Tuesday that Irving would not be paid for home games he misses while he is “ineligible.” The NBA is not forcing players to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but will withhold payment from any player who misses games due to local regulations.
Irving is due to pay $ 35.3 million this season in the third year of a four-year, $ 136.5 million contract he signed on July 6, 2019.
Marks said the team’s decision is not indicative of an imminent trade.
Irving, a seven-time All-Star, played 54 regular-season games for the Nets last season and averaged 26.9 points, 6.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds.
In 582 career games (all as a starter) with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2011-17), Boston Celtics (2017-19) and Nets, he averages 22.8 points, 5.7 assists and 3.8 rebounds.
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