There is reportedly “renewed optimism” within the Brooklyn Nets that Kyrie Irving will join the team at some point this season.
Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Monday that Irving and Kevin Durant have been in increasing contact in recent weeks, leading to “an increased level of enthusiasm between the two superstars.”
Irving has not played his season because he has refused to be vaccinated for COVID-19. New York City requires any person entering an indoor building like an arena to have at least one vaccination shot. The city will require full vaccination—two shots of Pfizer or Moderna or one shot of Johnson & Johnson—beginning Dec. 27.
While Irving is eligible for most road games, the Nets chose not to allow him to be a part-time player before the 2021-22 season began. It’s unclear if that stance has softened, though Nets governor Joe Tsai has been an ardent public supporter of vaccines.
“Obviously, Kyrie has his own belief so I respect that,” Tsai told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk in October. “But we have to make a team decision. This is not a decision about him. This is a decision about where we go as a team. And it is just not tenable for us to have a team with a player that comes in and out, no home games, only away games. What do you do in practice then?”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has also called on Irving to be vaccinated. Irving said his decision to remain unvaccinated is not political but has not gone into detail on his reasoning. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and they remain the best way to slow the spread of the virus.
New York City mayor-elect Eric Adams says he has no plans on changing the city’s vaccine mandate. That places the onus on Irving to be vaccinated, or for the Nets to change their stance and allow him to play in road games.
The latter scenario seems highly unlikely given the level of uncertainty it would create when the Nets reach the postseason.