Durant confident Nets, Irving standoff ‘will work out’

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The Brooklyn Nets are prepared to enter the 2021-22 NBA season as a title favorite, but there’s one glaring problem: Kyrie Irving’s ongoing stand against getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Irving, 29, cannot practice or play with the team until he complies with New York’s vaccine mandate, the Nets announced in a statement Tuesday. That leaves the two sides at an impasse that doesn’t have a clear end in sight, as Irving has given no indication that he’ll yield to the mandate.

Still, one of the Nets’ other stars, Kevin Durant, isn’t discouraged about the situation and remains optimistic that a solution will be reached.

“I wish none of this stuff would happen, but this is the situation that we are in,” Durant told reporters Thursday, via ESPN. “Kyrie made his decision on what he wanted to do and he chose to do what he wanted to do, and the team did the same.

“It’s on me to just focus on me, and do my job, and let those two parties handle that situation. I want our whole team together, and I want us to be at full strength, but sometimes it don’t work out that way. But I am still positive that things will work out the best for both parties.”

Durant and Irving both joined the Nets in free agency in 2019. The team bolstered its championship hopes in January 2021 when it acquired James Harden from the Houston Rockets in a four-team trade.

While hopes were high that the trio would lead the Nets to their first NBA title, Durant says he doesn’t resent Irving for remaining unvaccinated ahead of the upcoming season.

“What is being mad going to do? We are not going to change his mind, know what I’m saying? We’ll let him figure out what he needs to do and the team figure out what they need to do,” Durant said Thursday, via SNY.

In an Instagram Live on Wednesday night, Irving told followers, “I chose to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice, and I would ask you all to just respect that choice.” 

Later he said, “It is not about being anti-vax or about being on one side or the other. It is just really about being true to what feels good for me.”

The regular season begins for the Nets on Tuesday with a game against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks.

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