Kyrie Irving will join teammate Kevin Durant as members of the Brooklyn Nets who will not travel with the team to Orlando for the NBA’s resumption, which is tentatively scheduled to tip off on July 30.
Nets general manager Sean Marks confirmed the news on Wednesday, as relayed on Twitter by SNYtv’s Ian Begley:
Nets GM Sean Marks confirms that Kyrie Irving won't be joining the team in Orlando. Marks said it's best for rehabbing players to remain home. He added that he fully supports Irving & other Nets using their platforms to voice concerns, frustrations and support social causes.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) July 1, 2020
It’s hardly surprising that Irving won’t join the Nets at the Walt Disney World Resort’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and it goes well beyond his ongoing recovery from a nagging shoulder injury.
After all, the NBA presumably would prefer it if players who will not participate in games not enter the much-ballyhooed bubble over the potential risks of increased transmission of COVID-19 among non-essential players, staff, etc.
That being said, Irving provides an interesting case, as the Nets star was among the players who has strongly criticized the NBA’s return-to-play plans, something Marks alluded to in Wednesday’s comments.
Irving sounded the alarms last month over the NBA’s plans during a conference call in which 80-plus NBA players were believed to have taken part.
During the call, Irving expressed unease over the league’s return to action amid the social unrest and burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement inspired by the death of George Floyd, among other recent incidents of police misconduct involving people of color.
The optics of Black NBA players playing amid ongoing protests and outrage against systemic racism and social injustice concerned Irving.
“I don’t support going into Orlando,” Irving said on the call, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. “Something smells a little fishy.”
As it relates to the Nets and the resumption, the team will be severely hamstrung, and not only from the predictable absences of Durant and Irving.
On Monday, it was revealed that guard Spencer Dinwiddie and center DeAndre Jordan have tested positive for the coronavirus. While it’s unclear if Dinwiddie will join the team in Orlando, Jordan has already indicated he will not be participating in the NBA’s resumption of play.
At 30-34 and slotted as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, the Nets are in a good spot to qualify for the postseason after an abbreviated eight-game conclusion to the regular season. Given the shorthanded roster, however, making a deep run obviously will be tough.