Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant believes Kyrie Irving will be able to help the team this season despite concerns about the point guard's availability.
"I'm envisioning Kyrie being a part of our team," Durant said Wednesday. "Maybe I'm just naive, but that's just how I feel. But everybody here has that confidence in themselves and our group, that if we keep doing it, we can do something special."
Irving is currently unable to practice or play in home games because of New York City's coronavirus protocols. He missed the squad's first local training session Tuesday, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.
The Nets are reportedly unclear whether Irving intends to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the team's "hope is waning," according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst of ESPN. If he does not get a vaccine, the team would have to determine whether to feature him as a "part-time player."
Irving has a $35.3 million salary for 2021-22 but would forfeit about $380,000 for each game missed because of COVID protocols. The first would be Friday's home preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Brooklyn's regular-season schedule starts with two road games before the squad plays at home on Oct. 24 against the Charlotte Hornets.
Despite the potential challenges for the upcoming season, the team has been in Irving's corner.
"We support him. We are here for him," head coach Steve Nash said Tuesday. "Things change. When there's a resolution, we're here for him."
Durant also said at the team's media day he wasn't concerned Irving's decision on vaccination.
"That's his personal decision; what he does is not on us to speculate," Durant said last month. "I expect us to have our whole team at some point."
The Nets are a clear NBA title contender at full strength, but they would still be dangerous even without Kyrie this season. Durant and James Harden are two of the top offensive player in the league, while there is plenty of veteran depth between Blake Griffin, Joe Harris, Patty Mills, LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Millsap.