Kyrie Irving refuses to get vaccinated. It has already cost him his role on the NBA's best team and his pending $186 million contract is next.

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·3 min read
Kyrie Irving refuses to get vaccinated. It has already cost him his role on the NBA's best team and his pending $186 million contract is next.
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Kyrie Irving looks on during a game in 2021.
Kyrie Irving. Rich Pedroncelli/AP Images
  • Kyrie Irving can't play with the Nets full-time because he's unvaccinated, so they are sitting him.

  • According to reports, the Nets no longer intend to offer Irving a four-year, $186 million extension.

  • Irving's future with the team is now in doubt because of the saga.

The Brooklyn Nets' decision not to allow Kyrie Irving to play or practice with the team has left the future of the All-Star guard up in the air.

Irving has not received a COVID-19 vaccine and is thus not eligible to play home games in Brooklyn due to New York City vaccine mandates. The Nets announced on Wednesday that they would not allow Irving to play or practice at all until he can be a "full-time member of the team."

There are essentially three outcomes from here, though no one can say with any certainty which will happen: Irving gets vaccinated and returns to the team, he misses the season, or the Nets trade him.

It also sounds as if, for now, the Nets don't intend to offer Irving a rich, nine-figure extension that GM Sean Marks had spoken openly about during the offseason. According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, that extension would be worth $186 million over four years.

Charania said on The Athletic's "Glue Guys" podcast that the extension "will not be offered now."

ESPN's Zach Lowe said on his podcast that even if Irving got vaccinated and returned to the team in a full-time role, the Nets still might not offer the extension.

"The sense I get is this has thrown the Nets for more than a loop," Lowe said.

Additionally, the Nets don't intend to pay Irving for his missed home games, which comes to a total of $16 million if he misses all 41.

It's a far cry from what Marks told reporters on September 21, when he spoke about hoping to extend Irving and James Harden following Durant's four-year, $198 million extension.

"We've had very positive conversations with both those guys ... We're looking forward to sitting down with them over the course of the next week, two weeks, and furthering those discussions," Mark said.

Six days after Marks' comments, Irving had to call in remotely to Nets media day because he could not be in person due to New York City's mandates.

The situation has changed rapidly.

The Nets' trepidation is understandable. Though Irving was at once the Nets' most available star last year (playing 54 games to Durant's 35 and Harden's 36), he was also their least predictable. He began last season with a vow not to speak to media, which resulted in a fine from the NBA to both him and the Nets. In January, Irving left the team for undisclosed reasons, but was later seen at a birthday party, maskless, breaking COVID-19 protocols. The absence cost him seven games.

Given Irving's injury history (he's played in 80% of his team's games just twice in the last six seasons) and predilection for non-basketball-related issues, the Nets may to assess whether he is the third star they want to tie their future to (they are also still waiting on Harden to sign an extension).

Of course, Irving could also decide that himself. He has a player option worth $36 million for 2022-23. Charania said that Irving wants to retire with the Nets, but given his potential dissatisfaction with the Nets' decision to sit him, will he pick up that option or hit free agency?

There are also consequences to weigh with Durant and Harden, both of whom have said they chose the Nets, in part, to play with Irving.

An unprecedented situation is already threatening the NBA's latest super-team.

Read the original article on Insider