Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks generated headlines Tuesday when he confirmed that All-Star guard Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team as Irving remains unvaccinated against COVID-19. New York City is enforcing its mandate that requires in-market NBA personnel to receive one of the safe and available vaccines or obtain an approved medical or religious exemption to enter arenas such as Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden, meaning Irving would not be eligible to play in Nets home game nor road games vs. the Knicks.
Marks told reporters Tuesday he and Nets owner Joe Tsai decided to essentially banish Irving from team activities until the superstar is eligible to play in all games. Per Ryan Morik of SNY, Brooklyn guard James Harden explained Wednesday he had "no say" in the move and added he hasn't spoken to Irving since Tuesday's developments.
James Harden says the decision on Kyrie Irving was ultimately made by the Nets' front office:— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) October 13, 2021
"I have no say-so in that, I can only state my opinion. We gotta continue to move forward" pic.twitter.com/voCYqvGWRN
"That’s the front office," Harden said. "We had conversations, as far as a collective unit, and the ultimate decision that the front office made was that if Ky wasn’t gonna be here full-time, then it’s best for him not to be on the team part-time. I have no say so in that, and I can only state my opinion. We gotta continue to move forward. Obviously, we would love to have Kyrie here."
"We just gotta focus on the guys in this locker room that are here...that's all we can control"— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) October 13, 2021
James Harden on Kyrie Irving not being with the Nets: pic.twitter.com/wXCCDv8qjj
Meanwhile, head coach Steve Nash admitted he also hasn't spoken to Irving since Marks' press conference.
Steve Nash on Kyrie Irving:— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) October 13, 2021
"It's not easy, but I support the decision. If things change, we'd love to have Kyrie back" pic.twitter.com/ztu6DsLcds
"It takes time to make decisions like that. This was a difficult decision, but I think it was a sound one and one that makes complete sense to everyone," Nash said. "And we’re just gonna have to move on. If things change, like I said, it would be incredible to have him back in the fold but it was a tenuous situation to have a player in and out like that. So there’s more clarity, and we can focus on the future and keep going."
It was reported later on Tuesday that the Philadelphia 76ers are currently not interested in completing a trade that would involve acquiring Irving in exchange for unsettled All-Star guard Ben Simmons, who only reported to the Sixers earlier this week.