By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Brooklyn Nets are not going to allow Kyrie Irving to be a part-time member of the team this season. The point guard will not be allowed to play or practice with the club until he is eligible to be a full participant, general manager Sean Marks announced Tuesday.READ MORE: Nearly 30 Million People Tuned In To See Thrilling End Of Patriots-Cowboys On CBS
That means Irving is either going to have to get a COVID-19 vaccine, or he’ll have to stay away from his team until New York changes its vaccine mandates.
Under New York’s current mandates, Irving is ineligible to play home games at the Barclays Center and road contests against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Until about a week ago, he was ineligible to practice with his team.
That meant there was a strong possibility that the point guard would only be point guarding for Brooklyn’s road games this season. But on Tuesday, the Nets put the kybosh on that idea.READ MORE: Astros Have To Hope Zack Greinke Can Pull Off A Miracle Vs. Red Sox In Game 4
“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” Marks said in a release Tuesday. “Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability. It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice. Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals, each member of our organization must pull in the same direction. We are excited for the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make the borough of Brooklyn proud.”
When Irving left the Boston Celtics to to team up with Kevin Durant in Brooklyn, he said that he wanted to focus on basketball. Yet his cryptic — though obvious — vaccination stance has create a massive distraction for the team heading into the new season. The Nets are title favorites in 2021-22, and will likely remain that way without Irving thanks to Durant, James Harden and the team’s depth up and down the roster. It’s extremely likely that Tuesday’s decision did not come without Durant and Harden signing off, too.
There is a chance that Irving may have a change of heart and get vaccinated in order to join his teammates. There is a chance that the Nets could trade him to somewhere with less stringent vaccination mandates and recoup some assets. But there is also a strong possibility that Irving sticks to his stance and doesn’t play at all this season. The latter wouldn’t be surprising at all, given all that we’ve learned about Irving throughout his career.MORE NEWS: Rowdy Red Sox Fans Disrupt FS1 Postgame Show With A-Rod, David Ortiz At Fenway Park
Irving put Brooklyn in a tough spot, and on Tuesday, the team made the decision to do what is best for the team as a whole. For now, they have subtracted a big distraction from the mix — even if that distraction happens to be a superstar player.