The Nets are back in Brooklyn and Kyrie Irving is back to missing team gatherings.
Irving practiced fully for five straight days with his team during their training camp last week in San Diego, a municipality that does not have vaccination requirements that would impact players. He did not, however, practice with the team in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
Irving has declined to discuss his vaccination status publicly, but he has been absent from the team’s two appearances in Brooklyn, media day on Sept. 27 and Tuesday’s practice at the team’s training center.
New York City has a mandate that everyone over the age of 12 have at least one dose of COVID-19 in order to enter certain indoor premises that include both the Barclays Center and the team’s practice facility.
"Kyrie is not here today," coach Steve Nash confirmed at the end of practice. "No further update. We support him. We are here for him. Things change. When there’s a resolution, we’re here for him."
Nash was asked if the team would ever consider moving practices to Nassau Coliseum, home of the Nets’ G League team, or another venue outside of the New York City limits. Suffice it to say, he was not high on the idea.
"This is our home. This is where we are going to practice," Nash said. "We have almost a whole group. So that’s a positive and we’re just working at getting better every day and focusing on the things we can control."
The truth of the matter is missing practice time is not a huge deal for this star-laden team. Injuries prevented the Big 3 from practicing together for the majority of last season and they still came inches away from defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 7 of their playoff series. The Bucks went on to win the NBA championship.
Missing home games at Barclays Center, however, could be costly to both the Nets — who certainly would love to have their Big 3 together — and Irving.
According to the NBA collective bargaining agreement, when a player "fails or refuses, without proper or reasonable cause or excuse, to render the services required by the Player Contract," he is subject to a salary reduction. The formula changes every year, but the current formula calls for a reduction of 1/91.6th of a player’s salary for each preseason or regular-season game missed.
That is not a specific agreement related to local COVID mandates, but it is expected that formula will apply to games missed for that reason. Only New York and San Francisco have mandates that could impact players on the Nets, Knicks and Golden State.
The Knicks have said their roster is fully vaccinated, and Golden State forward Andrew Wiggins, who had expressed his opposition to the vaccine, now is fully vaccinated and will not miss any games or practices because of the local mandate.
Nash said he is not concerned about the situation at this point and that he hasn’t talked with Irving about what he needs to do basketball-wise outside of the facility when he is not with the team.
"I’m not worried about anything," Nash said. "We’re just trying to work every day. We came in today and had a great practice and we’ll do the same tomorrow, and that’s kind of where I leave it."