Nets GM Sean Marks: James Harden Trade Not Related to Kyrie Irving's Absence

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2021

Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving plays against the Boston Celtics during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 25, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Kyrie Irving has missed five straight games because of personal reasons, but Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks said this wasn't related to the team acquiring James Harden in a blockbuster trade Wednesday.

"When you have the opportunity to add James Harden to your roster, you do everything you can to make that happen," Marks said, per Rachel Nichols of ESPN. 

Marks explained that Irving is "excited" to rejoin his teammates:

CBS Sports HQ @CBSSportsHQ

Nets GM Sean Marks on Kyrie Irving returning to the team: "Part of that is up to the NBA and we're waiting on them to come out with a ruling ... I have talked to Kyrie and I know he's excited about getting back on the court as soon as possible." https://t.co/Blf4WcX0t1

The NBA also is reviewing whether Irving broke protocols based on a video of the point guard attending a party without masks, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews.

Marks said Thursday Irving has been following health and safety protocols and has been testing daily for COVID-19 while he's been away from the team, per Alex Schiffer of The Athletic.

Marks added that he is "without a doubt disappointed" that Irving has not been with the team but the player still had the support of the Nets.

His comments indicate an expectation the Nets will be led by a Big Three of Kevin Durant, Irving and Harden as they become one of the favorites to bring home a title as opposed to the possibility of a Big Two of Durant and Harden, with the latter being a replacement for the absent Irving.

Joe Vardon of The Athletic reported a league executive thought any trade for Harden would include Irving going back to Houston.

Harden and Durant were teammates earlier in their careers with the Oklahoma City Thunder and could be enough to make Brooklyn a scary opponent going forward.

The Nets instead parted with three first-round draft picks plus four pick swaps and more as they move forward with the three superstars.