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Report: Nets losing confidence Kyrie Irving will get vaccinated

Nets star Kyrie Irving

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 25: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets reacts against the Boston Celtics in Game Two of the First Round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center on May 25, 2021 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

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Nets general manager Sean Marks said he was confident all Brooklyn players would meet New York City’s vaccine mandate as training camp opened.

But the Nets returned to practice in Brooklyn today, and Kyrie Irving – who’s reportedly unvaccinateddidn’t participate. If he remains unvaccinated without an exemption, he won’t be allowed to play Nets home games.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Irving refused to elaborate on his vaccination decision. He reportedly liked coronavirus conspiracy theories online and has a history of conspiracy theorizing. He also got fined last season for violating the NBA’s coronavirus protocols by partying maskless indoors. Afterward, he talked about prioritizing what’s important.

For each game he misses due to New York’s mandate, Irving would lose $381,181 in base salary. For the full season, he could lose $17,153,155 plus another $381,181 per postseason game.

Opposing vaccination and facing a similar mandate in San Francisco, Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins got vaccinated – but said he felt forced into it.

The Nets won’t necessarily press Irving. They have built a culture of catering to their stars. Irving is also close with Kevin Durant, Brooklyn’s franchise player.

Yet, the Nets acquired another elite scoring guard in James Harden. Though its championship-favorite status is built on having all three stars, Brooklyn is relatively well-positioned to withstand Irving’s absences. Allowing Irving to miss home games could even help preserve Irving, who has a history of injuries, for the playoffs – assuming Irving can play postseason home games, either by getting vaccinated or seeing the mandate change.

Irving’s agents have reportedly threatened that the guard would retire if traded. But there’s a long way between here and the Nets wanting to break up this player-driven super team. The primary goal, of course, is having Irving play for the Nets.

But if he’s ineligible to do that in Brooklyn, the Nets must make some tricky choices about how to proceed.