WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Kyrie Irving can’t play home games in Brooklyn because he’s not vaccinated for COVID-19.
- The NBA said players who don’t meet vaccine mandates in New York and San Francisco won’t be paid.
- Irving makes $425,000 per game and could lose over $18 million by missing 43 games in New York.
If Kyrie Irving chooses not to get the COVID-19 vaccine this season, it’s going to cost him mightily.
Mike Bass, the NBA’s executive vice president of communications, told reporters on Wednesday that players who cannot play in New York City and San Francisco due to local vaccine mandates won’t be paid for those games.
Irving is not vaccinated, and due to local restrictions, cannot play or practice with the Brooklyn Nets.
Irving has a base salary of $34.9 million this season and makes about $425,000 per game. With 41 games in Brooklyn, plus two in Madison Square Garden to play the Knicks, Irving could lose over $18 million by not being available in the regular season.
The Nets also have two preseason games in Brooklyn.
Furthermore, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his podcast that he believes the Nets won’t offer an extension to Irving until he can play home games — in essence, until he is vaccinated or gets an exemption. The Nets gave Kevin Durant a four-year, $198 million extension during the offseason and have discussed extending Irving and James Harden.
“The Nets, for the last month, since this law became a thing, have expressed mild confidence that all of their players would be available and not miss any regular season games,” Lowe said on his podcast. “That is still possible. [Irving] wasn’t at media day today. I would say the Nets’ confidence is still there, but a little bit shaken. I think they expected this to be resolved by now, and it’s not.”
Nets head coach Steve Nash told reporters on Wednesday that he has not spoken to Irving about the possibility of not being paid for home games.
“I haven’t talked to him about it,” Nash said, according to The New York Post. “I know he’s been great in camp, playing well and I’m excited to have him back on the floor. I’ve missed watching him play, coaching him. So, yeah, it’s just been great to have him back. So I really haven’t been involved with that side of things.”
Irving missed the Nets media day on Monday due to the restrictions. The Nets are flying to San Diego, where Irving will join them, for training camp.
Irving spoke to reporters on Monday through a Zoom call and repeatedly requested privacy over his vaccination status and choice. He said he was not trying to create “hoopla” or “drama” over his status.
Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins is facing a similar situation, as San Francisco has a similar vaccine mandate. Wiggins is set to make $31.5 million this season.
The rules do not apply to teams visiting New York and San Francisco.
Both the Nets and the Warriors play on October 19, the opening night of the NBA regular season.