Unless Kyrie Irving has a change of heart, the superstar won’t be playing for the Brooklyn Nets in the 2021-2022 NBA season. His decision not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will cost him millions of dollars in salary, as well as the chance to guarantee himself a nine-figure contract for the future.

Irving said on Instagram Live that he plans to remain unvaccinated as of Wednesday, one day after Brooklyn announced that the guard wouldn’t practice or play with the team because of New York City’s vaccine mandate. While the mandate would allow Irving to play in road games outside of the city, the Nets will only allow Irving to be part of the team if he’s eligible to compete in all 82 games.

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association reportedly agreed that an unvaccinated player will be docked 1/91.6 of their annual salary for each game missed due to vaccine mandates. Nets general manager Sean Marks said Irving will still be paid for the road games he’s technically eligible to play in, even if he’s away from the team.

Irving had been set to earn a base salary of $34,916,200 for this season, according to Spotrac. He’s ineligible to play in two preseason home games, 41 regular-season home games and two road games at Madison Square Garden. That means Irving will lose about $380,000 in per-game checks, which works out to more than $16 million over the course of the season.

The decision to remain unvaccinated has also cost Irving the chance to sign a contract extension. Brooklyn inked Kevin Durant to a four-year, $198 million extension in the summer, and Marks made it known that the team was hoping to give max extensions to both Irving and James Harden before the season started.

Irving can sign a four-year extension worth up to $186 million. The Nets are no longer willing to offer him that contract, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

 

 

“It’s about choosing what’s best for you,” Irving said in IG Live. “You think I really want to lose money? You think I really want to give up on my dream to go after a championship? You think I really just want to give up my job?”

Following this season, Irving has a player option worth $36.5 million for the 2022-2023 season.

Irving stressed Wednesday that he isn’t retiring from the NBA. It’s possible that he could play this season, though it likely won’t be for Brooklyn if he remains unvaccinated.

Irving’s name has been floated in trade rumors since it was reported that he might miss games due to vaccine mandates. The 29-year-old would be eligible to play in home games for every team except the Nets, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. 

It’s been reported that Irving might retire if traded to another team.