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With Kyrie Irving’s personal leave now stretching past a week, Nets GM Sean Marks offered no explanation for his absence or timetable for his return.
Despite missing five straight games for what has only been termed personal reasons, Irving appeared in a video going maskless at a birthday party and is now under league investigation for potential breach of health and safety protocols. Then he took part in a Zoom launch party for Manhattan D.A. candidate Tahanie Aboushi, just a half hour before his Nets hosted Denver on Tuesday.
Marks admitted the Nets are disappointed not to have Irving on the court, but didn’t say whether they were disappointed in his actions or reasons for his absence. Indeed, Brooklyn has steadfastly refused to offer blanket approval or organizational condemnation, offering only Swiss-style neutrality.
“Without a doubt the organization is disappointed with not having any one of our players — in this particular case Kyrie — not amongst us, not in the trenches with us. So I don’t want to speculate and say why he’s out,” said Marks. “I’ve had conversations with him and I’ll continue to have conversations. We look forward to him being back in the gym where he’ll address this and we’ll sit down with him
“He’s part of our family; this group is part of our family, and we’ll continue to build with the group that’s here. You asked if it’s OK that people miss time. It’s been well-documented that, if there’s reasonable excuses for their absence, fine. We’ve got to support, whether it’s our players or it’s our staff, and you’d do that in any industry. But you also hope there’s an adequate — a more than adequate — excuse as to why he needs personal time, and he’ll address that without a doubt.”
Needing the personal time doesn’t explain gathering maskless at a venue, and the NBA is investigating whether there was a breech that could result in a fine, and whether contact tracing could necessitate a quarantine. If Irving misses games for a quarantine, he could forfeit game checks worth over $400,000 for every game missed.
Asked if the Nets found Irving’s excuse adequate or if they’d sit him even after he’s cleared by the NBA, Marks danced as eloquently as Irving in the lane.
“Kyrie’s been keeping up with his health and safety protocols and testing daily. So, since he’s been doing that, again, it’s out of my hands. The league is reviewing,” said Marks. “We look forward to addressing it with Kyrie when he’s back in our building amongst his teammates, amongst his family and going from there.”
Marks did say Irving is excited about the prospect of getting back on the floor, and insisted whatever is going on behind the scenes with the point guard didn’t spur the blockbuster deal for James Harden.
“No, they’re completely separate from one another,” Marks said. “Kyrie’s absence and the personal issues that he’s dealing with has nothing to do with us going after and attaining James Harden.
“Regarding Kyrie and when he’ll be hopefully back and rejoining the team, part of that is going to be the NBA and we’re waiting for them to come out with their ruling on the health and safety protocols. Hopefully we’ll have a ruling soon. I’ve talked to Kyrie so I know he’s excited about getting back on the court with his teammates as soon as possible.”
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