Kyrie Irving isn’t expected to return to action for the Brooklyn Nets this week, and potentially beyond, as the NBA investigates his recent whereabouts.
ESPN is reporting the former Celtics guard will miss at least Wednesday’s game against the New York Knicks and Saturday’s clash with the Orlando Magic.
While it’s unclear why he missed the last three games due to “personal reasons,” videos that circulated Monday night might offer a clue. Irving was spotted, without a mask, dancing and celebrating his sister Asia’s birthday on a confetti-covered floor.
He appears to be in great spirits in the videos, but the NBA likely won’t view the situation quite as favorably. The league’s COVID-19 guidelines have banned players from going to clubs, bars, and lounges. On Tuesday, the NBA escalated its restrictions, requiring players to stay at home when they aren’t at the team facility.
Sean Marks, the general manager of the Nets, said the team is aware of the video and is reviewing the circumstances with both Irving and the NBA.
“Kyrie remains away from the team due to personal reasons,” Marks said in a statement. “A date of his return has net to be finalized. In the meantime, we will continue to stay focused on our organizational goals. Kyrie will have the opportunity to address his absence when he is ready to do so.”
ESPN noted that the investigation comes during a “turbulent week.” Four games, including the Celtics’ matchups with the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Orlando Magic have been canceled, and it’s possible more will follow.
The league has already had to dole out one punishment. When Houston Rockets star James Harden was seen partying without a mask at a club during a Christmas party, he was fined $50,000 and had to quarantine for four days while returning daily negative COVID-19 tests. He never missed a game.
If a player misses a game for a COVID-19 violation, they would lose 1/72nd of their salary.