Nets guard Kyrie Irving hasn’t even started his return to the Nets but has already been placed in health and safety protocols, the team announced.
Irving will need five consecutive days or negative tests before he can join the team at practice. He is the ninth member of the team to enter protocols, joining fellow star Kevin Durant, who also entered on Saturday. The Nets now have nine players in the protocol.
Brooklyn GM Sean Marks just officially announced the return of Irving, who has chosen not to be vaccinated and is therefore ineligible for home games. He is eligible for the majority of road games.
“After discussions with our coaches, players and staff, the organization has decided to have Kyrie Irving re-join the team for games and practices in which he is eligible to participate,” Marks said in the statement. “We 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.
“We believe that the addition of Kyrie will not only make us a better team but allow us to more optimally balance the physical demand on the entire roster. We look forward to Kyrie’s return to the lineup, as well as getting our entire roster back together on the court.”
The Nets reached the decision to allow Irving to return after a series of positive tests among vaccinated players depleted the roster.
“It remains to be seen what the long-term plan for Irving is,” wrote Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors. “While having him available for about half the Nets’ games should help provide a boost in the short term, it’s hard to imagine the team will be happy only having him available on the road once the playoffs arrive. That’s still a few months away though, so the two sides have some time to figure things out.”
The NBA reportedly has a vaccination rate of 97 percent, but like the NFL and NHL, is experiencing a major outbreak of positive tests and players entering protocol. The Associated Press reported Thursday evening that about 8 percent of NBA players were in protocol.