Kyrie Irving was set to rejoin the Brooklyn Nets for the 2021-22 NBA regular season as a part-time player, being available only for road games, on Friday. However, just a few hours after the announcement, it’s been reported by the NY Daily News that the player also entered the health and safety protocols for Covid-19.
Irving, who is unvaccinated for Covid-19, is the ninth Nets’ player who has to enter the protocols, following Kevin Durant. This means that both players either tested positive for Covid-19 or received an inconclusive test result. In order to get back to the team, there are different protocols for both of them.
Now, Durant, who's vaccinated, needs to register two negative Covid tests in a 24-hour period or be sidelined 10 days to rejoin the team. If he gets the negative results next week, he will be available for the Nets’ Christmas Day matchup against the Lakers in Los Angeles. However, Irving’s situation might be trickier, as the player hasn't even trained for the team since October.
How many games can Kyrie Irving play this season?
In Irving’s case, it’s unlikely that he can return on December 23, as he has to post five consecutive negative COVID-19 tests in five days, as he's unvaccinated. Due to the several players unavailable as a result of the health & safety protocols, the team has rethinked its stance on having Irving to take part of the practices and road games.
In a statement, Nets general manager Sean Marks said that the team “arrived at this decision with the full support of our players and after careful consideration of our current circumstances, including players missing games due to injuries and health and safety protocols.”
If Irving is clear two week from now, he could play 22 games, of the 51 left. Apart from the home games, he would miss five road games too, as they will be played in New York and Toronto. The city’s government had previously clarified that the city's vaccination requirement does not prevent Irving from practicing with the Nets at their private Brooklyn practice facility.
The other players in the NBA’s health & safety protocols are: James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap, DeAndre’ Bembry, Bruce Brown, James Johnson and Jevon Carter. Brooklyn is currently 21-8 on the season, with a three game advantage over the second-place Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference.