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Kevin Durant envisions Kyrie Irving being part of Nets; Steve Nash unsure of his availability to start season

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When Kevin Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets, he probably anticipated to compete for championships alongside Kyrie Irving for the foreseeable future. However their first title bid collectively fell brief when Irving suffered an ankle damage within the second spherical of the postseason in opposition to the Milwaukee Bucks, and now, Irving’s standing surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine has put his availability for subsequent season in jeopardy. Unvaccinated gamers on groups primarily based in New York won’t be allowed to play in dwelling video games this season due to a city-wide mandate. Irving has given no indication on whether or not he plans to get vaccinated. 

However Durant stays optimistic about Irving’s standing. “I am envisioning Kyrie being part of our group,” Durant told reporters Wednesday. “Perhaps I am simply naïve, however that is simply how I really feel. However everyone right here has that confidence in themselves and our group, that if we maintain doing it we will do one thing particular.”

Irving doesn’t must be vaccinated to play for the Nets in highway video games, however ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst have reported that it’s unclear how keen the Nets might be to accommodate Irving as a part-time participant. Head coach Steve Nash has declined to maneuver practices outdoors of New York Metropolis to permit Irving to take part, and the All-Star guard was pressured to attend Nets Media Day remotely final week.

When requested if the Nets would have their entire roster accessible to begin the season, Nash responded “because it stands now, no,” and added “so we’ll see what occurs.” If Irving is not vaccinated by the point the season opens — in lower than two weeks — the Nets should resolve if they’re snug permitting him to play solely on the highway or if they might moderately bench him altogether. Irving might lose recreation checks price roughly $380,000 apiece for each dwelling recreation he misses. 

With or with out Irving, the Nets must be among the many highest groups within the NBA. Lineups that includes Durant and James Harden with out Irving performed solely 199 possessions final season, based on Cleaning the Glass, however the Nets outscored their opponents by 19.9 factors per 100 possessions in these spans. Bench items with both Durant or Harden ought to nonetheless be fairly efficient, and the Nets used fairly a little bit of roster-building capital this offseason securing insurance coverage in opposition to the prolonged absence of any of their scorers. They used the mid-level exception on former Spurs guard Patty Mills and their first-round decide on electrical rookie Cam Thomas. Each might face expanded roles if Irving can not play in some or all of Brooklyn’s video games. 

They need to have the ability to maintain their very own if that’s the case, however they aren’t Irving. Brooklyn’s roster is constructed across the notion that their offense might be so dominant that it could overcome a probably weak protection. Dropping from three stars down to 2 makes {that a} harder proposition. Durant signed in Brooklyn to play with Irving. If Irving is not enjoying, Durant’s job turns into considerably more durable. 

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