Just when you were waiting for more big trade news, we got an even more massive Brooklyn Nets update on the New York vaccine mandate front.
By now you know the deal: Kyrie Irving is just a part-time player. He’s only eligible for another 10 home games the rest of the season. Between that harsh reality and Kevin Durant’s sprained MCL (set to sideline KD through the All-Star break and beyond), it has apparently given pending free agent James Harden a wandering eye. That possibility has the Nets reportedly open to trade talks with the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons.
Well, what if Irving was suddenly eligible to play every night? Then, instead of looking to trade Harden for Simmons to avoid losing The Beard for nothing, could the Nets get back to their original Big 3 dream?
The latest from ABC7 New York:
Gov. Kathy Hochul indicated that New York’s indoor vaccine or mask mandated could be lifted by Wednesday, but is hinting that the school mask mandate could remain in place a little longer. This comes as hundreds of New York City employees marched across the Brooklyn Bridge Monday morning ahead of their possible termination this Friday due to their vaccination status. They marched from Metro Tech in Downtown Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and then made their way over to City Hall. With a key deadline looming, protests are erupting again as city employees who are not fully vaccinated will be terminated Friday.
So is Kyrie Irving clairvoyant?
On Sunday, Irving was asked by the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy about playing in home games this season. The Nets star’s answer was eye-opening.
“Who knows? Who knows? Who knows? I dunno, who knows? I know it’s not a laughing subject to be talking about, but who knows what could happen? Who you think I am? I’ve been talking to the city day after day, no I’m joking. Nah, I think I’m erring on the side of, I’m keeping a positive mindset that anything can happen these next few days or next week. And just crossing my fingers that something can come up either before the All-Star break or even just after. So I’m definitely keeping a positive attitude in that sense.”
You can listen here to Irving joking that he calls “the city” to talk all the time:
"Who knows? …I know it's not a laughing subject to be talking about but who knows what could happen? …Who you think I am?…I've been talking to city day after day, no I'm joking.
-Kyrie Irving says he's has a 'positive mindset' s/t comes up to allow him to play home games. pic.twitter.com/NfFUThIvpb
— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) February 6, 2022
But is it possible he really had some inside intel here on a possible change? Or was it just a positive mindset?
Now, a change in New York City specifically still needs to go through new Mayor Eric Adams, as pointed out on Twitter by Anthony Puccio of Front Office Sports:
If I’m not mistaken, this would be something that Eric Adams and the *city* would have to implement, but the state would be the first domino for NYC to follow suit.
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) February 8, 2022
If something were to actually change at the state level, coming from New York Governor Kathy Hochul, it could set a vital precedent for change at the city level. And that could be huge for the Nets—in this hypothetical.
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, “Harden has been vocal to Nets figures and close contacts alike about his frustrations regarding Kyrie Irving’s part-time playing status.”
If Irving could play every game, that would dramatically enhance the team’s 2022 title odds right away. But more immediately, the mere hint that Irving could maybe play without getting vaccinated might give GM Sean Marks reason to ignore the Sixers’ Harden advances through Thursday.
If one of James Harden’s biggest problems with being in Brooklyn (Irving’s part-time status) had some sort of resolution, the team may simply keep The Beard and hope it all works out. This news couldn’t have come at a better time for Marks to gain some key information as he focuses on big or small trades.