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Woj: Kyrie Irving has ‘some hope, some optimism’ that New York’s new mayor will modify mandates

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets are now entering their fourth week without Kyrie Irving. After a rough start that raised questions about how they’d do without their star guard, Brooklyn is now 5-3 and winner of three straight.

Irving remains silent, not commenting on his vaccination status or the demonstration by anti-vaxxers and supporters that almost got out of control on Opening Day in Brooklyn. Now, Adrian Wojnarowski says Irving has “some hope, some optimism” that New York’s Mayor-Elect, Eric Adams, might possibly change the mandate that’s keeping him off the court when the new mayor takes office on January 1. Here’s how Woj explained it in talking with ESPN colleague Mike Greenberg Wednesday...

“Eric Adams, the Mayor-Elect of New York City, talked today about revisiting possibly January 1 when he takes over, the city’s vaccine mandates for government workers and there’s some hope, some optimism, including, I’m told, around Kyrie Irving, that revisiting may also include performers and athletes including Kyrie Irving.”

But Woj also seemed to suggest that if Irving is prepared to wait till January for mayoral action, rather than get vaccinated, the Nets might not be as patient as they’ve publicly said, including in an interview with Joe Tsai last Thursday. Woj in fact reiterated that the Nets are taking calls from teams interested in trading for Irving.

“Now, that’s two months away before he takes office on January 1. The Brooklyn Nets, they have been getting calls about Kyrie Irving, about their interest in discussing trades with them. So how does this fit into the Nets timetable if Kyrie is going to wait into January to see what happens with the new mayor of New York City, how does that affect how the Nets move forward? There’s a lot to watch here, Greenie.”

Indeed, Adams did speak Wednesday, the day after his election, about mandates, but only about the city’s requirement that its employees take the shot or be eliminated from the city’s municipal payroll. Adams also noted that he would not undercut the outgoing mayor, Bill deBlasio, who instituted both the employee mandate and the rule that’s keeping Irving out of Barclays Center. He did not discuss the venue rule.

“I hope the mayor — and I’m encouraging him to do that — to sit down with unions and come to a resolution,” Adams said of the employee mandate on CNN. “And if he doesn’t, if this is still going to January, I’m going to sit down with them and we’re going to get this resolved.”

“We need to revisit how we are going to address the vaccine mandates,” Adams said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

The Nets, the NBA and the players union, of course, would rather see him vaccinated and rejoin the team for a number of reasons. Wednesday, Steve Nash was asked about the report that Adams would revisit the mandates,

“I might be speaking out of turn, but I think if the mandate changes, he’d be welcomed back for sure,” Nash said before Wednesday’s game.

Of course, if the COVID infection rate and other pandemic metrics continue to show an improvement, things could change at any moment. Gov. Kathy Hochul in an appearance at Barclays Tuesday noted things are getting better in general but added there’s no “magic number” that would turn off any of the mandates.

However, on Thursday morning, there was a new twist in the vaccine wars. The Biden administration set January 4 for all companies with 100 or more employees — which would certainly include the Nets and/or BSE Global — to ensure that their workforces are fully vaccinated or tested weekly. The NBA requires daily COVID testing.

(H/T to @JMartinezBKN for isolating and posting the Woj video.)