Brooklyn Nets

Kyrie Irving won't play or practice with Brooklyn Nets until he's 'eligible to be a full participant'

Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the Nets until he is "eligible to be a full participant," general manager Sean Marks announced in a statement on Tuesday.

"Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant," Marks wrote. "Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.

"It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice. Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals each member of our organization must pull in the same direction.

"We are excited for the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make the borough of Brooklyn proud."

Under New York City's guidelines, players on the Knicks and Nets who are unvaccinated for COVID-19 are prohibited from entering their home arenas for both practices and games. Last week, New York City determined Brooklyn's practice facility a private facility, paving the way for Irving, who is reportedly unvaccinated, to practice with the team, but the Nets have made it clear that they will "not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability."

On Oct. 5, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst reported that the Nets had been previously optimistic that Irving would get vaccinated, but that "hope is waning" and they remained "unclear" on his intentions. At the time, the Nets reportedly hadn't made a decision on whether or not they'd accommodate Irving as a part-time player.

The announcement comes as a huge blow to the Nets, who enter the 2021-22 season with the best odds to win the championship. Irving was tied with Kevin Durant for team-high honours in scoring last season, averaging 26.9 points per game on .506/.402/.922 shooting splits. He joined some elite company in the process by becoming only the ninth player in NBA history to record a 50-40-90 season.

The Nets scored at a rate of 119.4 points per 100 possessions with Irving on the court last season. With him on the bench, the team's offensive rating fell to 113.2, which was the difference between the Nets ranking first (by a mile) and 10th in offensive efficiency.

If Irving remains unvaccinated and is unable to play this season, his absence opens the door for Patty Mills to take on a bigger role.

The No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Irving is a seven-time All-Star with three All-NBA selections to his name. He has career averages of 22.8 points, 5.7 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game.

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