After a tumultuous offseason with surprising trades and signings, the NBA returns this Sunday with its first pre-season game between LA Lakers and Brooklyn Nets. Pre-season however, is played just to tune up after a long offseason, and prominent players generally avoid it. Even though Nets vs Lakers is one of the most anticipated matchups for the season, big names like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Kyrie Irving will be absent from the first game of the season.
These teams are heavily favoured for the 2021-22 NBA championship with several all-stars on each roaster. While LA Lakers are filled with experienced veterans, Brooklyn Nets have more star power with Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving at their disposal. ESPN gave Brooklyn Nets the best odds to win it all this season, followed by their Sunday night matchup LA Lakers.
The odds were similar last year as well but injuries suffered by both teams led to first and second-round eliminations in the playoffs. The teams that eliminated them in their respective conference went on to the NBA Finals. While Anthony Davis is perpetually injured and a liability of the LA Lakers throughout the season and in the postseason, Kyrie Irving poses a similar threat to the Brooklyn Nets.
Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving officially ruled out
The preseason is set to tip-off on 3rd October at 3:30 PM ET. Brooklyn Nets face LA Lakers but the players to watch out for will be on the sidelines supporting their rookies and role players today. Star players of a team are generally given limited game time in the preseason to avoid injuries and extend the offseason break for injured players.
As a result, LA Lakers and Brooklyn Nets have decided to give Kevin Durant, James Harden, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and several other players an extended offseason. They are officially ruled out of the Sunday night game and it is unclear whether they will play in the preseason at all.
Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Joe Harris, Patty Mills, Blake Griffin and James Johnson all will NOT play Sunday against the Lakers per Steve Nash.
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) October 2, 2021
Kyrie Irving on the other hand may not be able to play more than half of regular-season games due to his decision not to get vaccinated. It is mandatory in several states for all players to get vaccinated in order to play, and one of those states happens to be NY.
Irving is aware of all the consequences which include missing all home games, losing up to $17.5 million in addition to jeopardizing the championship aspirations of the Brooklyn Nets. He seems adamant about his decision not to get vaccinated and the team’s reaction to it is awaited.
Joe Harris, Patty Mills, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard will be absent from the lineup as well.