Kyrie Irving could soon be making his season debut for the Brooklyn Nets.
According to reports from Shams Charania of The Athletic and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the franchise has changed its stance on Irving being a part-time participant, making way for the seven-time All-Star to begin the process of rejoining the team.
In accordance with New York City guidelines for persons that are not vaccincated for COVID-19, Irving, who is not vaccinated, can not play in games that take place in New York but can practice at the team’s private facility and be a full participant in road games.
Sources: Kyrie Irving will play in road games and practice at home with the Brooklyn Nets. He is expected to practice with the team in the coming days. https://t.co/QilgYMM4Lo
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 17, 2021
After initial reports, Nets general manager Sean Marks released a statement regarding Irving’s return.
The following statement has been released by General Manager Sean Marks: pic.twitter.com/DAldOYe4nj
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) December 18, 2021
Why are the Nets allowing Kyrie Irving to return?
Leading into the 2021-22 season, Marks released a statement regarding Irving’s availability, saying that “we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant.”
While Marks and the organization expressed that they respected and supported Irving’s infividual right to choose, they remained firm on the stance that they will not permit any team to participate with part-time availability.
However, in mid December, it was reported that there was increased optimism in Irving making a return to action, as the team was feeling his absence.
According to Wojnarowski, a recent string of injuries and a COVID outbreak within the Nets has exacerbated the team’s need for Irving, prompting the franchise to change its course on allowing the superstar guard to participate on a part-time basis.
As a byproduct of the lack of available bodies, the team has been forced to make use of the NBA’s hardship exemption and Kevin Durant is second in the league in minutes per game.
Irving’s return increases Brooklyn’s rotation and decreases the usage of its MVP.
When could Kyrie Irving make his season debut?
It might be a while.
According to Wojnarowski, Irving will have to undergo a series of COVID tests before he can join the teaam. Irving, who has not been with the team since October, will likely be placed into a return-to-play conditioning program in order to ramp up his activity.
Kyrie Irving has to test negative on five successive days before he can rejoin the team. Once he returns, he will have to test every day as an unvaccinated player. https://t.co/L1RwG8GORQ
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 17, 2021
As it stands, 29 of the Nets 53 remaining regular season games will take place in either New York City or Toronto, meaning Irving could play in a maximum of 24 games this season.
Given the process of Irving’s return to play, the realistic number is likelt somewhere in the teens.
Nets schedule 2021-22
|Dec. 18||vs. Orlando||7:30 p.m.||–|
|Dec. 19||vs. Nuggets||7:30 p.m.||NBA TV|
|Dec. 21||vs. Wizards||7:30 p.m.||TNT|
|Dec. 23||at Trail Blazers||10:00 p.m.||–|
|Dec. 25||at Lakers||8:00 p.m.||ABC/ESPN|
|Dec. 27||at Clippers||10:30 p.m.||NBA TV|
|Dec. 30||vs. 76ers||7:00 p.m.||NBA TV|
|Jan. 1||vs. Clippers||7:30 p.m.||–|
|Jan. 3||vs. Grizzlies||7:30 p.m.||NBA TV|
|Jan. 5||at Pacers||7:30 p.m.||NBA TV|