The concern revolved around Kyrie Irving‘s vaccination status. The guard, who is unvaccinated, is already limited to playing certain games due to vaccine mandates. According to Begley, the prospect of playing the Raptors in a playoff series was one of Harden’s concerns about Irving’s status dating back to the start of the NBA season.
Should the Raptors meet the Nets in the playoffs, Irving would not be allowed to play in Toronto due to current COVID guidelines. The Raptors sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, while the Nets are three games behind, in eighth.
Irving would also need to sit out a potential play-in playoff game at Barclay’s Center should the current private-sector vaccine mandates remain in place.
Harden has since forced a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers. In exchange, the Nets received Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks. The 76ers also obtained Paul Millsap as part of the deal.