After an offseason of laying relatively low, save for the Kevin Durant extension, the Brooklyn Nets have been slapped across the face with a good, old-fashioned, PR nightmare, as star point guard Kyrie Irving has not confirmed he has been vaccinated against COVID-19, leaving him at greater risk of derailing the regular season.
In addition to the fact that he will undergo much stricter testing protocols, Irving now faces the possibility of being unable to play in over half of the Nets’ games, as New York City is currently mandating the vaccine in order to perform indoor activities.
Irving could miss at least 45 games between Nets home games and road games against the Knicks and Warriors, as San Francisco has a similar mandate.
Those who wanted Irving traded in the offseason in order to help the Nets improve on defense have once again pushed heavily to get rid of him, citing the fact that his potential unavailability is a distraction. Even the great Shaquille O’Neal has now joined that fray, claiming that the Nets need to do something about Kyrie if he is unwilling to take the shot.
Shaq claims that while he is respecting Irving’s opinion and decision, he is still advocating for a trade. The Nets are trying to win a title, and when your third-best player is now at risk to sit out over half the season due to local health regulations, a more reliable option could be needed.
Will Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving get traded due to his vaccine stance?
Irving has absolutely no questions about his on-court skills, as he may have had the best offensive season of his career last year. Unfortunately, due to his inability to inoculate himself, he could be a potential risk for the Nets this season, which has helped so many prominent voices in the game turn on him.
The common refrain from the Nets organization, as told by Durant and GM Sean Marks, is that not getting vaccinated is a personal decision and that while they encourage getting the shot, they don’t believe Irving’s case will force him to miss time.
Rumors claim that Irving will eventually get the shot due to Durant’s influence and likely due to the fact that the league has stated that players will not be compensated if they miss out on games due to the lack of a vaccine. Hopefully, Irving gets the shot and quiets all of the noise.
Shaq is not the only one to go after Irving. Owner Joe Tsai has hinted that Irving must remember the common goal that he and the Nets share. Even mayor Bill de Blasio is urging Irving to get vaccinated, citing fans’ desire to see Irving back on the floor and the fact that other teams have reached the 100% vaccination threshold.
Brooklyn likely won’t trade Irving. On top of the fact that his vaccine stance may turn some suitors away, you just can’t find a player with his combination of speed, handles, and efficiency, and a package of three or four players standing on their heads to equal his production is unlikely.
The Nets just need to hope that either Irving gets his shot, putting this whole thing to bed, or that the city starts to loosen their vaccine mandates in order to prevent Irving from missing games (though NYC reneging on its promise and bending over backwards for the NBA is an awful look). If Durant is really going to be the deciding factor in Irving getting his shots, he needs to get his buddy to his local CVS as soon as possible.
Shaq is likely not only in his frustration with Irving, and the number of NBA legends who come out against him will increase the longer this goes on.