Woj: Optimism from Nets, league that Kyrie Irving will be a full-time player

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving during the game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center.
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The focus on Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status continues as the Nets season winds down with just 16 games left after Thursday. While the fans have been frustrated by the lack of movement by New York City Mayor Eric Adams to amend the private-sector mandate, there is still optimism around the organization and league, according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski.

Despite a rollback of restrictions in New York City, Irving still cannot play home games because of the mandate that requires employees of New York City-based businesses to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Wojnarowski said during an appearance on ESPN that the league and the NBA Players Association have also expressed the same optimism.

“There has been optimism around the Nets, around the league office, Players Association that they’re eventually going to get there with Kyrie Irving and the mandate in New York,” Wojnarowski said. “How soon that happens still remains a question. Certainly, you’ve seen a progression in the Mayor’s Office of alleviating restrictions, but still, the performer restrictions that keeps Kyrie Irving out hasn’t changed, but this has become a very complicated issue with the city with how they want to handle this. Especially with so much focus on one individual, but I think around the Nets there’s still a confidence, maybe even more than optimism that they’re going to get Kyrie Irving on a full-time basis at some point.

“But time is running out for this team right now that is still at .500, still when you look at the postseason standings is going to have a real difficult time working their way out of an eight seed to try to win the East.”

Irving has proven just how valuable he is when is on the court with his 50-point effort against the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night and will be a crucial part of any Nets run during the postseason. The Nets entered Thursday sitting in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and trailing the Toronto Raptors 2.5 games for the seven seed. Brooklyn trails the sixth seed Cleveland Cavaliers by 5.5 games.

Mayor Adams’ resistance to making any amendments to the current mandate has stemmed from his concern over the message it would send to everyday New Yorkers who have gotten the vaccine in order to maintain their employment. Adams has agreed that the language was not fair in allowing visiting players who are unvaccinated to play at Barclays Center, but kept Irving off the court.

The optimism that there would be change extended beyond the basketball world.  Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso told amNewYork and The Brooklyn Game this week that he believed the vaccine issue would be solved before the postseason began.