Kyrie Irving’s Brooklyn Nets future unclear after latest Woj Bomb

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 03: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 03: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

For the first time during his entire tenure, it feels as if there’s a tangible chance that Kyrie Irving’s grip on his Brooklyn Nets career is slipping away.

There is, of course, still time for this careening train to reverse course. It’s possible, though, that Irving’s perceived safety net with the organization isn’t as strong as he once believed.

According to ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Irving’s private battle over compliance with New York City’s vaccine mandate has now sown doubt about whether he’ll be able to join the team for its 41 home games in 2021-22, plus potential (ok, extremely likely) postseason contests.

It’s not just the home games that are now in question, though. According to Woj, Brooklyn is beginning to wonder whether Irving’s antics are worth dealing with for the other 41, too.

The Brooklyn Nets don’t believe Kyrie Irving will be vaccinated.

According to Wojnarowski’s latest:

"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, sources said.The Nets have been outwardly supportive of Irving’s process to consider vaccination and believe they’ve listened, supported and educated him, but the franchise’s collective patience will be increasingly tested the longer that Irving stops short of committing to join the team on a full-time basis.The Nets believe they’re still a championship contender with a roster constructed around Kevin Durant and James Harden and could ultimately have to make hard decisions on Irving’s future should he remain unvaccinated and unable to play in Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden."

Of course, that final point is extremely important. Losing Irving from what the team considers to be a championship core would be very unfortunate, but the reality is that any team with Kevin Durant, James Harden, Blake Griffin and a shockingly deep bench will begin the campaign as the favorites to emerge from the East and likely win the whole damn thing. Irving is intrinsic to this team’s identity, but if he opts to be unavailable due in large part to his personal beliefs, then they can — and maybe will — persevere.

Ignoring everything about how Irving’s “personal choice” isn’t really personal at all, if he’s made up his mind, there’s precious little the Brooklyn Nets can do about it. Up until Tuesday night, it seemed like a given that they’d take whatever amount of Irving they could get, though, and attempt to play their 2021-22 season with dueling identities. On the road, they’d be whole. At home, they’d be incomplete.

The more you roll that vision around in your head, though, the less sense it makes.

Irving’s response came on Wednesday morning, and was just as cryptic as any previous communication from the All-Star point guard.

In the most delicate terms, Irving’s recent flaunting of mask mandates — as recounted in a previous story about his visit to Standing Rock — as well as his public persona based on questioning everything has come off callous in a city wrecked by the pandemic more than any other.

If he feels noncompliance in his heart and soul, there is nothing the Brooklyn Nets can do about that. It really is a choice, but it’s also a two-way street.