Kyrie Irving took the first step as a part-time player, rejoining the team at HSS Training Center Wednesday afternoon to practice with his teammates.
With New York City mandating that all players get vaccinated in order to enter indoor venues, Irving isn’t eligible to play home games at Barclays Center. Instead, the Nets guard will be a part-time player, only permitted to play in road contests.
Prior to Thursday night’s game against the Sixers, Steve Nash said he hasn’t spoken to Irving about getting vaccinated since he rejoined the team. The Nets head coach added those conversations haven’t taken place since the preseason.
“No. Not since we had those conversations in the preseason,” said Nash. “Since then, we have not.”
Irving is eligible to play 22 road games, but he’ll also need to complete a ramp-up program to finalize his conditioning and get back to game speed before returning to the NBA hardwood. The first game the Nets superstar could possibly play is January 5 against the Pacers in Indiana. A return on January 12 vs. the Bulls seems more more likely. (He’s ineligible vs. the Knicks for the two games at MSG because of the NYC ban and one game in Toronto. Canada has a full ban on the unvaccinated,)
“I may be a little naive but I think just keep it really simple. Kyrie plays on the road and we figure out how he rejoins the group, finds his rhythm and his place on the team. When we come home, we go back to normal and the way we’ve been all year,” said Nash on fitting Irving back into the fold.
“We just try to keep it really simple, don’t overanalyze or complicate it. Try to enjoy it and try to put him in a position to succeed, to enjoy what he’s doing, and then the positives of having him back can be high. That can also have an effect hopefully on us when he’s not in the lineup and guys are not having much of a burden in every single game.”
The Nets announced Thursday evening that Day’Ron Sharpe has also cleared the league’s health and safety protocols. The team added that Sharpe will also need a ramp-up focused around conditioning before returning to play. The Nets head coach did not comment on Sharpe’s ramp-up.
David Duke Jr. cleared protocols earlier in the day and he is available for Thursday night’s game. After the two subtractions, only Kessler Edwards is the only remaining Net on protocols, giving the Nets 16 available players, double what they had only last week.