Kyrie Irving won’t get vaccinated. The Nets won’t let him play or practice until he does. Even if neither side backs down a Kyrie Irving trade is unlikely.
Kyrie Irving‘s refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has kept the Brooklyn Nets in limbo since media day. There is no vaccine mandate for NBA players but several individual cities have local ordinances in place that mandate vaccines for large indoor gatherings. Unfortunately for Irving, New York City, the home of the Nets, is one of those places.
If Irving continued to refuse to get vaccinated he would be, at best, a part-time player for the Nets this season. He wouldn’t be able to play in any home games for Brooklyn, or road games against the Knicks, Warriors, Lakers and Clippers who play in cities with similar rules. In addition, he wouldn’t be allowed to cross the border into Canada which would prevent him from playing against the Raptors. That would only make him available 35 regular-season games.
The Nets had a tough decision to make — holding a spot for him for a little under half the season could wreak havoc on their rotations and drag out an ongoing distraction as they look to compete for a title. Apparently, they aren’t interested in risking it. On Tuesday morning, the Nets released a statement that Irving wouldn’t be allowed to play or practice with the team until he was able to be a full participant (which means until he’s vaccinated).
This latest development may spark some trade discussion but the truth is the Nets almost certainly are going to be stuck with Irving, whether or not he gets the shot.
Here’s why the Nets probably can’t pull off a Kyrie Irving trade
1. Even if he’s traded Kyrie Irving still can’t play against a half-dozen teams. Any team that traded for Kyrie Irving would be willingly entering into the same conundrum the Nets just dramatically avoided. Even if they could make a trade work, the Knicks, Raptors, Clippers, Lakers and Warriors would be out because of the same local vaccine restrictions in Brooklyn. Even if he was traded to a different team he’d still miss a minimum of nine road games, regardless of which conference he ended up in. (And that’s not even counting a potential nightmare playoff series where he’s only available for home games.) And, of course, there’s also the possibility that additional cities are forced to adopt similar vaccine mandates to stop the spread of the virus during the season making his availability even more tenuous.
2. He’s still going to be a distraction. Even if a team is willing to trade for Kyrie Irving knowing he won’t be available for a quarter of their road games, at a minimum, they’d also have to be willing to talk about it at every press conference and media availability. And not just the front office, Irving’s new teammates would be asked about it at every opportunity. There’s no way it’s not an ongoing distraction.
3. He threatened to retire if they trade him. Lastly, a team that trades for Irving might not actually get him. As the idea of a Ben Simmons for Kyrie Irving swap gained some traction last month rumors started floating around that Irving, through his agent, had threatened to retire if he’s traded. If he’s willing to give up half his season and potentially a chance at a ring with the Nets, one would imagine he’s happy to walk away from a longshot title chase with the 76ers or Denver Nuggets or whoever.
For better or for worse, Kyrie Irving isn’t going anywhere until he decides he wants to.