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Will ‘Big Three’ debut Monday? It’s ‘questionable’

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The Nets play the Bucks in a nationally televised game Monday, part of the NBA’s Martin Luther King Day program. Sounds like an ideal time to debut the team’s new “Big Three,” Kevin Durant, James Harden ... and Kyrie Irving.

Irving, who hasn’t played since January 5 due to “personal” reasons, is healthy but because he needs to complete the NBA’s health and safety protocols, he remains “questionable.”

And so, Irving is no longer listed as being out for “personal” reasons, but instead “health and safety protocols.” On Thursday, the day after the Harden trade, Sean Marks said he had spoken to Irving and that he’s “excited” about a return. Marks also said Irving will “have the opportunity to address his absence when he is ready to do so.”

Irving, of course, has never disclosed the reasoning behind his absence, but there have been reports that he was upset by the assault on the U.S. Capitol by right wing, mostly white, insurrectionists on January 6 and how they were treated by police, compared to how Blacks have been treated.

However, earlier this week, video emerged of Irving hosting a family birthday party in West Orange, N.J. The league examined the video and determined it violated the health and safety protocols, resulting in a fine, two games worth of docked salary and a round of testing. (The Nets have said that during his hiatus, Irving continued to get daily tests.)

Although the Nets didn’t practice Sunday, Steve Nash said post-game that he anticipated Irving would work out on Sunday with the team’s “stay ready” group of bench players. The next update is likely to be released Monday afternoon.

In seven games, Irving is averaging 27.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds with a shooting line of 50/43/100.