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Kevin Durant 'Wouldn't Lose Sleep' If Nets Traded Kyrie Irving, Says Stephen A. Smith

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVOctober 12, 2021

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant reportedly wouldn't voice opposition if the team's front office tries to trade guard Kyrie Irving because of his potential unavailability for the 2021-22 NBA season.

Nets general manager Sean Marks announced Tuesday the franchise wouldn't allow Irving to take part in practices or games "until he is eligible to be a full participant," which won't happen until he receives a COVID-19 vaccine or New York City's vaccination rules are changed.

"Kevin Durant, from what I'm told, has reached that point [where enough is enough]," ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported Tuesday on First Take. "Of course, he wants Kyrie there, but if they trade him, he ain't gonna lose sleep. I'll leave it at that."

Durant explained last week he wasn't planning to urge Irving to get vaccinated, a decision the 11-time All-Star described as "way bigger than hoops," but noted it would be tough to replace their starting point guard if he's unavailable to play.

"I mean he's a special player so it is going to be hard to duplicate what he brings," Durant told reporters. "But professional sports are about the next man up mentality so we are looking forward to guys stepping up and filling in that role as best as they can."

The 2013-14 NBA MVP pushed aside the idea he'd want Irving traded because of the uncertain situation, though.

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"I want him a part of this group," Durant said. "He's a special player. We want him a part of this group. But a lot of stuff is out of our control and we will let him figure that out for himself. It doesn't mean that I will say that I don't want him on the team."

The Nets opened training camp with championship-level expectations in large part because of the star power atop the roster in Durant, Irving and James Harden.

Spencer Dinwiddie, who would have provided a strong backup option at the point, was traded to the Washington Wizards in August as part of a sign-and-trade deal.

Patrick Mills and Jevon Carter are the other full-time point guards on Brooklyn's roster, though the team would likely let Harden run the offense a majority of the time, which would open up more playing time on the wing for the likes of Joe Harris, DeAndre' Bembry and Bruce Brown.

It's unclear what the Nets would be able to get back in a trade for Irving, who's entering the final guaranteed season of his four-year, $136.5 million contract. He holds a player option for 2022-23.

Irving is one of the NBA's most dynamic on-court performers leading to a resume that includes an NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers and an Olympic gold medal medal with Team USA. Both of those hallmark moments came in 2016. He joined the Nets in 2019.

He's generated controversy with his off-court beliefs on a few occasions, though. Prior to his decision to not get the COVID-19 vaccine, he incorrectly stated the Earth is flat in 2017. He later apologized for the ruckus that remark caused but didn't say his view had changed, saying certain thoughts should be saved for "intimate conversations."

For now, the Nets will move forward without Irving for an undetermined amount of time.

Brooklyn tips off the regular season Oct. 19 when it visits the reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.

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