Brooklyn Nets PG Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is a full participant, the team announced Tuesday morning. Irving is not vaccinated against Covid-19 and must do so in order to become a full participant in team activities. The New York vaccination mandate forces Irving to miss home games, as well as road games against the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. LA and San Francisco have similar mandates.
Here’s a full statement from Nets GM Sean Marks. The Nets are basically saying that Irving can’t just be a part-time member of the team while skipping practices and games because of his personal choice.
Here is the Nets’ official statement on Kyrie Irving from GM Sean Marks on Irving being held out while his vaccination “choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team” based on New York City’s COVID-19 policies. https://t.co/eCCPu1rN2x pic.twitter.com/WoAZVk1BN0— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 12, 2021
This has impacts on multiple levels throughout the league. If Irving opts to not get vaccinated, he may get traded to another team. We don’t know what the market or interest would be from other franchises, considering it would be because Irving refuses to get vaccinated. If Kyrie caves and gets the vaccine, all of this will be resolved.
The other impact is in the betting markets and fantasy basketball. It’s going to be very tough to approach Irving in terms of fantasy. You can ignore him toward the top of your draft (first three rounds or so) and see if he drops down a bit. If that’s the case and these issues are resolved/he is traded, you’ll get pretty decent value on someone who has top 3-5 PG upside.
The betting market gets flipped a bit as well. The Nets are currently +200 and the favorite to win the championship in 2021-22 on DraftKings Sportsbook. That line could change with the uncertainty surrounding Irving’s status. It can go either way. The line can go down and Irving’s situation could be resolved, making the Nets a strong value.
Irving could also get traded or decide to retire, which would put the Nets in a bit of a bind. James Harden and Kevin Durant are plenty capable of winning a championship without Irving. Does that still mean Brooklyn should be favored to win it all? Probably not. So that could open up the Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks to overtake the Nets as betting favorites to win it all. LA is 4/1 and the Bucks are 9/1 on DKSB.
Brooklyn is also +100 to win the Eastern Conference and -280 to win the Atlantic Division. The division line may have the most value. The Nets were always going to be dealing with injuries or players resting (KD, Harden, Irving), so there was always an outside shot the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics or even New York Knicks could have a shot at winning the division title. The Sixers even more so with Ben Simmons seemingly going nowhere.