Report: Brooklyn Nets still unclear on Kyrie Irving's vaccine intentions

Published October 7, 2021, 9:00 AMNBA.com News Services

New York has a mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for athletes who play in or practice in the city.

Because of New York’s vaccine mandate, Kyrie Irving missed Tuesday’s practice with the Brooklyn Nets, who remain unclear on his intentions to get vaccinated, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

There had been previous optimism that Irving would get vaccinated and fulfill local governmental mandates allowing him to practice and play in New York this season, according to Wojnarowski. But Irving’s continued resistance to vaccination has the Nets preparing for the possibility that they’ll be without him for home practices and games for the foreseeable future.

New York has a mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for athletes who play in or practice in the city.

If Irving remains unvaccinated, the Nets could soon be faced with a decision on whether they’ll allow Irving to come and go with the team in and out of New York — or just keep him sidelined all together, ESPN reports.

After Irving missed practice on Tuesday in Brooklyn, Nets coach Steve Nash said the team will not consider relocating practices outside New York to accommodate him. The team will be away from home for only one day the rest of the preseason — Monday for a game at Philadelphia.

“We support him, we’re here for him. When things change and there’s a resolution, we’re here for him,” Nash said.

Irving could lose game checks of approximately $380,000 for every home game he misses under an agreement between the NBA and the NBPA, writes Wojnarowski. That could come as soon as Friday, when the Nets host the Milwaukee Bucks (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV). Irving, 29, is under contract for $35.3 million in 2021-22 and has a $36.5 million player option on his deal for the 2022-23 season.

Irving hasn’t said if he has been vaccinated against COVID-19, asking for privacy when pressed about his status during the team’s media day on Sept. 27. He wasn’t with his teammates that day at Barclays Center, instead appearing via Zoom.

The Nets held training camp last week in San Diego, with Irving present and practicing, and they ran their first practice at their training facility in Brooklyn on Tuesday with everyone except Irving.

The NBA doesn’t require players to be vaccinated, but those who aren’t face frequent coronavirus testing and severe restrictions on their activities. Players in New York and San Francisco, which has a similar mandate soon going into effect, won’t be paid for the games they miss.

The New York Knicks have said their entire team is vaccinated and Andrew Wiggins recently became the last of the Golden State Warriors to get a shot, leaving Irving as the lone player potentially facing a pay cut for virus reasons.

Nash frequently pointed to a lack of practice time last season as a problem for the Nets, with the condensed schedule and coronavirus testing forcing them instead to often opt for rest when they could get it.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.