As far as star power is concerned, there isn’t a team in the NBA that can compete with the Brooklyn Nets when they’re at full strength.
Unfortunately for the Nets, they could be at a distinct disadvantage for half of the upcoming season, as Kyrie Irving has been exposed as one of the few high-profile players in the league that isn’t vaccinated.
Of course, New York has made it mandatory to be vaccinated in order to attend indoor events, which includes games at the Barclays Center.
That puts Irving at risk of missing Brooklyn’s 41 home games, as well as road games against the Knicks and Warriors due to San Francisco’s similar mandate.
If Irving was giving serious thought to sitting out half the schedule, he might have reservations after the NBA’s latest announcement.
On Wednesday, league spokesman Mike Bass confirmed that any player who doesn’t comply with local vaccine mandates WON’T be paid for games they miss.
The NBA’s latest announcement further complicates Nets star Kyrie Irving’s vaccination saga.
Talk about sending a message.
With so many prominent superstars — like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, among others — coming forward to explain why they decided to get the vaccine, this announcement seemed inevitable.
The league is also 90% vaccinated, with several teams, including the crosstown Knicks, recently announcing they’ve reached the 100% threshold.
So, what kind of paycut would Irving be in for? According to the terms of his contract, he’d forfeit over $400,000 (!) for each game he misses under this new policy. Irving has made generational wealth throughout his career, but we’re talking about him tabling $16.4 million if he misses all 41 home games this season.
Will that be enough to change Irving’s mind? It’s tough to say, but all the evidence we’ve seen, whether it be through Irving himself or scathing news articles, suggests he’s going to hold firm in his hesitancy for the time being.
That flies in the face of Kevin Durant’s latest comments after he expressed optimism that Irving’s vaccination status wouldn’t be an issue.
We bashed pundits like Stephen A. Smith and Nick Wright for stoking the Irving trade rumors, but they don’t sound too crazy now, huh?
The Nets have a potential disaster on their hands, and the lone solution — Irving getting vaccinated — doesn’t seem realistic at this juncture.
Unless Kyrie undergoes an unanticipated change of heart between now and the start of the regular season (Oct. 19), Brooklyn won’t have its star point guard for home games or home practices at the HSS Training Center.