Did Adam Silver hint at Kyrie Irving’s possible full-time return to Nets?

Feb 6, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) shoots the ball in the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 6, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) shoots the ball in the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Within the past week, the Brooklyn Nets made a blockbuster trade and snapped their 11-game losing streak. Kevin Durant is expected to be back after the All-Star break and hopefully, Joe Harris will be right behind him. While there is plenty to look forward to, Kyrie Irving’s vaccine status still prohibits him from playing games in New York City and Toronto.

Irving wasn’t allowed to join Brooklyn during the first half of the 2021-22 season. Sean Marks backtracked on the organization’s original decision that prohibited Irving from being a part-time player. He made his season debut on Jan. 5 and remains unvaccinated a month and a half later.

The morning after James Harden was traded to Philadelphia, Irving spent time on Twitter replying to tweets. One account tweeted at the guard and asked if he was going to get vaccinated and he replied with a gif that said “NAH.

There’s been a lot of speculation around if New York City will lift its vaccine mandate. On Wednesday morning, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was a guest on ESPN’s “Get Up” and he surprisingly questioned the validity of NYC’s mandate.

Adam Silver addresses Kyrie Irving’s part-time status with the Brooklyn Nets.

For Silver himself to question the mandate is huge and could be a spark for change. It’s clear that Irving isn’t going to get vaccinated and if he ends up being a full-time participant in time for the playoffs, that’ll be enormous for the Nets.

Silver said (subscription required):

"“Being here in the New York market, particularly in the last week, many of the masking restrictions are being lifted,” Silver said. “You can just feel it in the city. There are more people in restaurants, more people out and about. While it’s my personal view that people should get vaccinated, I can imagine a scenario where Brooklyn, as part of New York City, with a new mayor now … I could see him deciding to change along the way and say it’s no longer necessary to have a mandatory vaccination requirement.”"

Irving is averaging 24.1 points, 5.4 assists, and 1.1 steals in the 14 games that he’s played in for Brooklyn this season. He’s shooting 45.2% from the field and 36.8% from the 3-point line.

In last Saturday’s 115-111 loss to Miami, Irving scored 20 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter.

After the game, Irving was asked if he feels guilty about his part-time role.

"“There’s no guilt that I feel,” Irving said. “I’m the only player that has to deal with this in New York City because I play there. If I was anywhere else in another city, then it probably wouldn’t be the same circumstances. But because I’m there, we have Eric Adams, we have the New York mandate, we have things going on that are real-life circumstances that are not just affecting me, bro. So you ask me these questions, I don’t feel guilt."

The Nets have grown accustomed to playing in games at Barclays Center without him but maybe they won’t have to worry about that for much longer.

One of the tweets that Irving replied to last Friday came from a fan that said that games in Brooklyn aren’t the same without the seven-time All-Star.

Does Irving know something that we don’t?

On Monday, Washington, D.C. announced that it was going to end its vaccine mandate at the end of February. That sets a precedent for New York City to follow in D.C.’s path.

Although nothing’s for certain yet, it certainly seems like Irving will be stepping on the floor at Barclays before the year is over.

Will Nets fans soon get to see the new Big Three play together in both home and away games?