The Brooklyn Nets are reaching a point of being stuck between a rock and a hard place. All-Star guard Kyrie Irving has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, and with New York having strict rules that require workers to get vaccinated, Irving is unable to play in games or participate in team activities that take place in the city.
A recent report by Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that the Nets’ optimism that Irving will be able to join the team sometime soon is “waning,” and that his continued reluctance to get the vaccine might put the team in a situation where they “could ultimately have to make hard decisions on Irving’s future.” Whether or not this means the team would try to trade him or just trudge forward without him with the hope that he gets vaccinated or New York changes its rules remains unclear.
In the eyes of Stephen A. Smith, there is one person who can step in and play a role in convincing Irving to do what he needs to do. Smith called on Kevin Durant to play a role in remedying the “distraction” by having a blunt conversation with his teammate.
“It is up to KD to step in and step up and say, ‘Yo, bro, I’m with you, I’ve got your back 1,000 percent, so long as you on this court with me, but if you not gonna be on this court with me, you going up against everything we planned,’” Smith said. “’Nobody planned on a pandemic, nobody saw that coming, but these are our circumstances and our situations.’”
Smith went on to say that he believes Durant could, ultimately, decide “to either reel him in or give the Brooklyn Nets the OK to move on from him.” This does not, of course, mean that Smith thinks Durant will advocate for Brooklyn to trade Irving if he won’t get the vaccine — he has reported in the past that Durant stepped in and single-handedly squashed talks on an Irving-for-Ben Simmons trade — just that this is the power Durant possesses within the organization as its best player.