Kevin Durant said he is still introducing himself Kyrie Irving be part of it Networks’ Championship pursuit, but he also admits that if he can’t play home games in Brooklyn, “it will be hard to copy what he brings”.
Irving missed his second straight day of training in Brooklyn as New York City’s COVID-19 protocols only allow players with at least one vaccine shot to practice and play. With uncertainty about the All-Star Guardian’s vaccination status growing every day and whether he can train and play with the Nets at home, Durant said the Nets “aim to be a whole team,” but he also respects Irvings personal choice.
“I imagine Kyrie as part of our team,” the star striker told reporters after training on Wednesday when asked if the talented Nets have enough to cover Irving when the security guard is not on the team for a long time is. “Maybe I’m just naive, but that’s how I feel too. But I think everyone here has the confidence in themselves, in our group, that if we continue to build, we can create something special.”
Sources told ESPNs Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst that the Nets remain unclear about Irving’s intentions to get vaccinated and that the organization has not yet made a decision whether to accept him as a part-time player this season. Previously, there had been optimism that Irving would get vaccinated and fulfill the local government mandates that allowed him to practice and play in New York this season. But sources said Wojnarowski and Windhorst hope is fading, and Irving’s ongoing resistance to vaccinations has prepared the Nets for the possibility that they will be without him for home training and games for the foreseeable future.
Head coach Steve Nash was asked if things have changed regarding the Nets’ earlier optimism that the town’s vaccine mandate would not be an issue early in the season and if everyone would be fine by then.
“I don’t know, I can’t answer that,” Nash told reporters. “The way it looks now, no. So we’ll see what happens. I don’t really want to speculate about something that’s in the air right now.”
Durant made it clear that Irving is critical to what the Nets aim to achieve this season. But he also wanted to give his point guard room what Irving would like to do about at least one vaccination.
“He’s up to something personal right now,” said Durant. “And while he’s doing it, we’re going to focus on ourselves here in the gym and keep working. If you are ready to find out, he will find out.
“I mean he is a special player so it will be difficult to copy what he brings,” added Durant. “But professional sport is about the next-man mentality, so we’re looking forward to the guys advancing and fulfilling this role as well as possible.”
Irving trained with the Nets at their training camp in San Diego last week. The Nets are currently at home playing Milwaukee on Friday. They play in Philadelphia on Monday before ending the preseason with another home game against Minnesota.
After opening the regular season on the streets in Milwaukee and Philadelphia, the Nets will be home for nearly two weeks during a six-game homestand.
“I want him to be part of that group,” said Durant. “He’s a special player. We want him to be part of that group. But a lot of things are out of our control and we’re going to let him figure that out for himself. That doesn’t mean I say I don’t.” would like to have him on the team. He’s a big part of what we do, but in his absence the guys need to step up and be who they are and move forward. “
Durant also said he did not want to interfere in Irving’s decision.
“I’m not really trying to get into it too much,” he said. “It’s much bigger than myself and each of us individually. This is a man’s personal choice about his wellbeing, so I had to sit back and watch and see what happens, come here and practice every day and do every rep hard.” “
“No, I’m not going out to give advice like that,” added Durant when speaking to Irving. “That’s his decision, that’s his decision, we all respect it, it’s much bigger than Reifen Job as one of the leaders in the team. And when things are settled, I have faith and hope it comes out. “