Nets star Kyrie Irving said the decision not to get vaccinated proved costly — as in a four-year contract extension worth about $187 million.
Instead, Irving picked up his one-year option of about $36.5 million this offseason after failing to reach an extension agreement with the team.
“I gave up four years, 100-and-something million by deciding to be unvaccinated and that was the decision,” Irving told reporters at Nets media day. “[Get this] contract, get vaccinated or be unvaccinated and there’s a level of uncertainty of your future, whether you’re going to be in this league, whether you’re going to be on this team, so I had to deal with that real-life circumstance of losing my job for this decision.”
Irving said he felt as if the Nets gave him “an ultimatum” when it came to getting vaccinated and his contract.
Meanwhile, Nets GM Sean Marks avoided giving details on contract negotiations with Irving.
“There were a lot of unforeseen circumstances that led up to those contract negotiations with Kyrie at the end of the summer,” Marks said. “I’ll never get into the actual discussions, but they were very open and honest discussions. We knew what he was looking for, and we obviously couldn’t find middle ground.”
After some major offseason drama centered on a Kevin Durant trade demand, both Durant and Irving are back in Brooklyn and supposedly ready to roll, as is newcomer Ben Simmons.
“At the end of the day, we’re happy that Kyrie is back here,” Marks said. “I’m listening to the press conference he had this morning and my takeaway from that is that he’s committed. He understands that in order for him to be a free agent and get what he rightfully wants, he’s going to have to show commitment out there. We’re happy to support him in any possible way throughout the season to make sure that he’s healthy and ready to go.”
Marks added he suspects that Irving will be back to his old self and that the past is the past. And brought up the fact that Irving is now in a contract year.
“He’s committed, and he understands that as he goes into free agency, in order to get what he wants, he’s going to have to show commitment out here,” Marks said. “We’re going to be happy to support him in any possible way throughout the season to make sure he’s healthy and committed and ready to go.”
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