The news broke less than an hour after the Nets confirmed that their other all-star, Kevin Durant, had also entered into the protocols, making him ineligible for this past Saturday’s game against the Magic.
Irving, Durant, James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre’ Bembry, Bruce Brown, Jevon Carter, James Johnson, and Paul Millsap are in the safety protocols.
As EBONY previously reported, the Nets announced that Irving would be returning to the team to play road games only. Initially, the team had decided to move on without Irving, but they switched course last week because of so many players in safety protocols and the increase of Durant’s workload on the court.
“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,” the Nets general manager Sean Marks had said in a statement. “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 statement had continued.
Under the current New York City mandate, Irving was not permitted to play in home games due to his unvaccinated status although he could practice with the team.
On Friday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Irving will need time to work himself into playing shape and will also need to test negative for COVID-19 on five consecutive days before offcially rejoining the squad.
To deal with the spikes in cases across the league, the NBA instituted stricter COVID-19 protocols on Friday. Increased testing will begin on December 26 through January 8; plus, a return to mask usage until agreed otherwise by the league and union representing its players.