While it increasingly seems as if Nets star Kyrie Irving won’t appear in a game this season, he could still play in one game.
That would be none other than the NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
Irving should be on the All-Star Ballot, Lewis reported, making him a strong candidate to be voted via the fans.
The Nets are holding out Irving to comply with New York’s vaccine mandate. Cleveland, which hosts the game Feb. 20, does not have a vaccine mandate.
Irving has a large following on both Twitter and Instagram, as Lewis noted, and fans make up 50 percent of the voting for the All-Star Game.
The Nets suspect Irving isn’t going to get vaccinated, and therefore, will not return to game action. He does, however, remain a member of the roster, being sent home but not suspended.
“The bottom line is, Kyrie Irving is not vaccinated,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski told colleague Malika Andrews, via Net Income and Alec Sturm of Nets Daily. “At this point he doesn’t sound as though he is about to get vaccinated to be able to return and play for this Nets team. And the Nets are preparing for the fact that’s he’s not gonna be there.”
As for the potential of an Irving trade, Wojnarowski added that everything is very much up in the air, given the uniqueness of the Irving situation.
“You just don’t know what you’d be trading for. You don’t know whether he wants to play –does he want to play for you? Does he want to play at all?” Wojnarowski said, via Sturm.
“He wanted Brooklyn, he wanted Kevin Durant, he wanted to play for his childhood team and there have been a lot of instances where it’s fair to question how much he wanted to play.”
“I am doing what’s best for me. I know the consequences here and if it means that I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s just what it is,” Irving said. “That’s the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate.”
Irving would be ineligible for all of Brooklyn’s home games, but could play in most road games. But the Nets had other plans.
“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” Nets GM Sean Marks in a statement.
“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.”
Irving, 29, averaged 26.9 points and 6.0 assists in 54 games last season, his second in Brooklyn.