Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the Nets until he is “eligible to be a full participant,” general manager Sean Marks announced in a statement Tuesday.
“Given the changing nature of the situation and after careful deliberation, we have decided that Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” wrote Marks. “Kyrie has made a personal decision and we respect her individual right to choose. Currently, election restricts her ability to be a full-time team member, and we will not allow 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 every member of our organization must contribute the same direction.
“We are excited about the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make Brooklyn Borough proud.”
Under New York City guidelines, Knicks and Nets players who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 are prohibited from entering their local stadiums for both practices and games. Last week, New York City determined the Brooklyn practice facilities a private facility, paving the way for Irving, reportedly not vaccinated, to practice with the team, but the Nets have made it clear that “they will not allow any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.”
5th of October ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst reported that the Nets had previously been optimistic that Irving would be vaccinated, but that “hope is dwindling” and they remain “confused” about his intentions. At the time, the Nets had reportedly not made a decision on whether or not they would accommodate Irving as a part-time player.
MORE: Irving Could Lose Millions Amid New Vaccination Guidelines
The announcement is a huge blow to the Nets, who enter the 2021-22 season with the best odds of winning the championship. Irving was tied with Kevin Durant for the team’s top scoring honors last season, averaging 26.9 points per game on .506 / .402 / .922 split shots. He joined some elite company in the process by becoming only the ninth player in NBA history to record a 50-40-90 season.
The Nets scored at a rate of 119.4 points per 100 possessions with Irving on the court last season. With him on the bench, the team’s offensive rating dropped to 113.2, which was the difference between the Nets in first place (by a mile) and 10th in offensive efficiency.
If Irving remains unvaccinated and cannot play this season, his absence opens the door for Patty Mills to take on a bigger role.
Irving, chosen number one in the 2011 NBA Draft, is a seven-time All-Star with three All-NBA picks to his name. He has career averages of 22.8 points, 5.7 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.