Nets players and team officials are staying in touch with Kyrie Irving, but they’re being careful not to pressure him about his decision regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Irving has steadfastly refused to get vaccinated, even in the face of a New York City mandate that prevents him from entering Barclays Center for home games.
“If you know Ky, you know he loves his personal space,” DeAndre’ Bembry said. “So being able to let him work through this, because obviously we all want him back, but it’s more so about his decisions right now and what he wants to do. So we can’t really can’t really do too much about it. We just pray for him and hope that he can come back.”
When teammates and coaches reach out to Irving, the conversation always focuses on his well-being, rather than basketball-related topics, Lewis adds. Many members of the organization were surprised that Kyrie chose not to get the vaccine, but everyone says they will welcome him back whenever he can return, whether that means the mandate is lifted or he decides to get vaccinated.
There’s more from Brooklyn:
- James Harden and Kevin Durant have become mentors to rookie guard Cameron Thomas, Lewis notes in a separate story. Thomas recorded 11 and 13 points in his last two games and may have played his way into the rotation. “One thing about Cam, though, he’s got the ultimate green light and confidence,” Harden said. “I’ve seen it in a couple guys, but to actually go out there and do it is impressive. He works his butt off, he goes down to the G League, comes back up and … he (is) ready to go. So we just try to give him little nuggets every chance we get, throughout the course of the game, on the court, off the court. He’s learning on the job, and it’s great to pass that knowledge down to a young cat. He gets it.”
- Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, who was an assistant with the Nets last season, is impressed that LaMarcus Aldridge has been able to return to the game after a health scare forced him to retire, Lewis adds. “It was just different that night, because it didn’t go away quickly, which it usually would,” Udoka said. “… He felt like he was out of sorts. I was on him hard (on the sideline) about the things we needed, the things he’s not doing for the first time, and he just kept bumping me in timeouts saying, ‘I feel sluggish, I feel slow. Something needs to get going.’ But looking back on that, it was evident that something was a little off.”
- A sprained left ankle kept Joe Harris out of the lineup for a seventh straight game tonight and it sounds like it might be a while before he returns, according to Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. “I think he’s made small progress,” coach Steve Nash said. “But I think there’s still a ways to go there, where they’ve got to continue to evaluate different options and how we can help speed up his recovery.”