Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash said the decision to keep Kyrie Irving away from the NBA championship hopefuls until he is cleared to play was a "difficult" but "sound" choice.
The Nets are set to be without seven-time All-Star Irving – who remains unvaccinated – for the start of their regular season unless his coronavirus vaccine status is resolved.
Irving is ineligible to play in home games or practice in Brooklyn due to New York City mandates, with people in New York requiring at least one coronavirus vaccine to enter indoor arenas such as the Nets' Barclays Center.
While Nash and former MVP James Harden are ready to move on without Irving, the duo insisted the title-chasing Nets would welcome back the 2016 NBA champion.
"Everyone had their say," Nash told reporters after Wednesday's practice. "It takes time to make decisions like that. This is a difficult decision. But I think it was a sound one and one that makes complete sense to everyone.
"We are just going to move on, and if things change, it would be incredible to have him back in the fold. It was a tenuous situation to have a player in and out like that. There's more clarity, and we can focus on the future and get going."
Midweek improvements pic.twitter.com/zDzB1VsGGu— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) October 13, 2021
"For guys to be able to not have the uncertainty I think is important," Nash said. "It's not kind of hanging over us. A decision was made, and I think that can be beneficial to us starting to really build and have that understanding that this is what's happening instead of we were living in a world that was very uncertain.
"We weren't sure from one day to the next what was going to change or what was going to happen. That can be difficult, and that can put an extra strain on everybody."
In 2020-21, Irving averaged 26.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game as the Nets lost in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Irving enjoyed a career-high 50.6 field-goal percentage and joint-career best 92.2 free-throw percentage last season.
Harden added: "Sean [Marks], Steve [Nash], me, KD [Kevin Durant], Kyrie, we all had conversations. Kyrie believes in his beliefs, and he stands firm and strong on that. And for us, we respect it. We all love Ky. But as far as us, we have a job to do.
"Individually, myself, I am still wanting to set myself up for a championship. And I feel like the entire organisation is on the same path and we are all in this as a collective unit."
"I have no say so in that," Harden said of the Irving decision. "I can only state my opinion, and we got to continue to move forward. Obviously, we would love to have Kyrie here."
"We still have two pretty good leaders on the team," Harden continued. "Know what I mean? And obviously Ky is our leader as well. We still have myself and Kevin [Durant]. [We] have to lead, which we are pretty good at that, and go out there and be great every single night."