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Report: Kyrie Irving is choosing “to be expendable” for the Nets

Kyrie Irving, Nets

The Kyrie Irving situation heated up in a hurry and for now, it appears things might be as bad as anyone reasonable could have imagined back when this story began unfolding. ESPN Insider Adrian Wojnarowski dropped an episode of The Woj Pod over the weekend where he chopped it up with network colleague Malika Andrews. He provided some updates on the Irving-Brooklyn Nets scenario and well…he didn’t sugarcoat much.

Per Woj:

“The bottom line is, Kyrie Irving is not vaccinated. At this point he doesn’t sound as though he is about to get vaccinated to be able to return and play for this Nets team. And the Nets are preparing for the fact that’s he’s not gonna be there.”

A couple of days ago, I speculated Harden’s mere presence on the team has at times felt like some first-ballot Hall-of-Fame-caliber insurance against Irving going AWOL. Well, The Woj Pod adds a little bit of validation to that theory.

Woj added that “I think the day James Harden arrived in Brooklyn, Kyrie Irving was expendable, if he chose to be expendable.” It appears that’s precisely what he’s choosing.

So Brooklyn may have felt for some time now that Irving’s heart isn’t all in. The biggest question of all now, isn’t so much will Irving get vaccinated, as it doesn’t sound like he plans to. The next most logical question is a wild one… can the Nets trade him for someone good or could he just sit out all season?

To that point, Woj made it sound like the market may not be as robust as team General Manager Sean Marks would like. Woj talked about a potential trade from an acquiring team’s point of view:

“You just don’t know what you’d be trading for. You don’t know whether he wants to play — does he want to play for you? Does he want to play at all?”

Of course, we’ve heard the rumors Irving would retire if traded. Irving recently dispelled that notion. But it doesn’t sound like teams have been reassured by much of what Kyrie Irving said on his Instagram Live appearance a few nights ago. For now, the safest bet is that the Nets wait this out a bit. I imagine their phone isn’t ringing off the hook with calls. The pod suggests that one of the most popular suggestions (a Ben Simmons for Kyrie Irving swap) isn’t on the table from Philadelphia. And while they may not expect Irving to change his mind here, it makes some sense for them to wait and at least hope the 2016 champion has a change of heart.

Saturday, the team finalized its 17 man roster by adding undrafted free agent David Duke Jr. to one of the remaining Two-Way deals.

Now the team is focused not on the Kyrie Irving situation but on the beginning of the regulars season; at least that’s the company line. One imagines it’s at the very least a distraction hanging over the entire locker room. And it’s a topic the players will probably all have to face questions about for the foreseeable future.

With Kyrie Irving taking a stand and perhaps making himself fully expendable, we’ll have to wait and see if the trade market picks up in the early portion of the season.