Nets forward Kevin Durant embraces Kyrie Irving after the Nets...

Nets forward Kevin Durant embraces Kyrie Irving after the Nets 110-107 win against the New York Knicks in an NBA basketball game at Barclays Center on Sunday, March 13, 2022. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Kevin Durant said the Nets were never overly upset with Kyrie Irving for not getting vaccinated, adding that if they don’t win a championship this year, it doesn’t mean their window of opportunity has closed.

Durant told reporters after shootaround Monday that Irving was “frustrated in not being able to play” and had assumed that the private-sector mandate barring him from participating in home games would be rescinded by now.

“If you're looking at it as if, like, this is our only chance to ever do something special with this group — and other people looking at it that way — then I can see” feeling a sense of regret, Durant told reporters.

“But to be honest, I signed here for five years to play. You know what I’m saying? Looking at, obviously this year's important, but no matter what happens this year, I still want to do it again . . . [We’re] looking at the big picture of things, too.”

The vaccine mandate currently means that Irving can only play three of the team’s remaining regular-season games, but it’ll have an even greater impact during the playoffs. If the season ended today, the Nets would face the Raptors in Toronto for the play-in game, and Canada is still not allowing unvaccinated players to cross into its border.

“It’s the situation we’re in, we got to deal with it, he's got to deal with it,” Durant said. “I don’t think we were ever upset at him as much as people on the outside were. We get that it may affect the outcome of some basketball games, but that's not the only reason why we love Kyrie as a person, because of what he can bring to the court. I think overall him as a human being, we respect who he is, we respect the game on top of that.”

Harris has surgery

Joe Harris underwent a second surgery on his left ankle Monday, the team announced. Harris first had surgery in November to remove a bone particle in his ankle, but never recovered as expected and got a second procedure to reconstruct a ligament in the same area. He's expected to make a full recovery before training camp. 

Drummond out against Utah

 Andre Drummond sat out Monday’s game with a non-COVID-19 illness, the Nets announced. Nash said he was hopeful Drummond would be able to join them on the road trip. The Nets travel to Memphis and play the Grizzlies Wednesday.

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