Despite not having Kyrie Irving, James Harden and the Nets are focused on team-building — and a title

BROOKLYN — One day after the Nets said Kyrie Irving won’t play or practice until he’s eligible to be a full participant, Brooklyn held its first workout with Irving out of the plans.

On Wednesday, as Nets players addressed the media for the first time since Irving was sidelined — general manager Sean Marks has acknowledged the point guard is not vaccinated against COVID-19 — they came off as low-key and ready to move forward, despite the void that Irving’s absence leaves with the team.

Just as the Nets adopted a “next man up” mentality last season as attrition consistently ravaged the lineup, Brooklyn is taking the same approach with Irving out. With the preseason finale against Minnesota on Thursday, and now, clarity on Irving’s situation, the Nets will have just one tune-up before next week’s season-opener in Milwaukee.

“Kyrie believes in his beliefs, and he stands firm and strong on that,” James Harden said. “For us, we respect it. We all love Ky. But as far as us, we have a job to do. Individually, myself, I’m still wanting to set myself up for a championship, and I feel like the entire organization is on the same path. And we’re all as a collective unit. We’ll keep pushing forward, and we’ll try to do our best every single day to get better and keep going as a collective unit.”

Harden later added: “The ultimate decision that the front office made was that if Ky wasn’t going to be here full-time, then it’s best for him not to be around the team part-time. I have no say-so in that. I can only state my opinion, and we’ve got to continue to move forward.


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