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Woj: Kyrie Irving could return vs. Grizzlies Sunday

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Wojnarowski reports Wednesday night that Kyrie Irving is nearing completion of the “process” the Nets laid out for him and could return as early as Sunday vs. the Grizzlies at Barclays Center.

Woj quoted “sources,” including the NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio, on the news.

“Kyrie is continuing his journey of dialogue and education,” Tremaglio told ESPN on Wednesday night. “He has been grappling with the full weight of the impact of his voice and actions, particularly in the Jewish community. Kyrie rejects antisemitism in any form, and he’s dedicated to bettering himself and increasing his level of understanding. He plans to continue this journey well into the future to ensure that his words and actions align with his pursuit of truth and knowledge.”

The controversy, the latest in Irving’s three-year tenure with Brooklyn, began October 26 when the Nets guard promoted an antisemitic video which ultimately led to his indefinite suspension — with a minimum loss of five games — until he fulfilled several conditions. Irving will miss his eighth consecutive game on Thursday night in Portland,

Tremaglio’s comment also means that the players union will not be filing a grievance, clearing the way for a smooth end to the controversy. A number of NBA players had suggested this week that the conditions for Irving’s return had been too onerous with one union vice president Jaylen Brown suggesting that Tsai was being hypocritical on his human rights stand.

Woj reported that the players union has been critical to the process and that Irving had taken “ownership” of the process, hinting that the original six conditions for his return may have “evolved” into something different.

Tremaglio and the union have worked closely with Irving, the Nets and NBA in helping him to author his own remedies to end the suspension, sources said. What may have started out as a rigid list of prerequisites evolved into Irving himself taking ownership of the process, which is what the Nets and league hoped would be the case, sources said.

Woj did not provide details on how the list “evolved” but reports in the last few days indicated that Irving, the Nets, the league and union were working together to resolve things. Not long after Woj’s report, the NBA’s official Twitter page posted a short video on the larger issue of antisemitism...

Initially, the Nets laid out the six conditions including a full apology and condemnation of the 2018 video, antisemitic and sensitivity training. a $500,000 financial commitment to combat hate as well as meetings with Jewish leaders including the Anti-Defamation League. The final step was to be a meeting between Irving, Joe Tsai and other members of the Nets front office.

Irving and his family met with Tsai and his wife/co-owner Clara Wu Tsai last Thursday, after which Tsai tweeted that he believed that Irving harbored no bias against Jewish people, and added that all parties were “working constructively toward a process of forgiveness, healing and education.”

In talking to the Glue Guys prior to the Woj report, Sam Amick of The Athletic said the Grizzlies game had been rumored to be best best for an Irving return:

“It does feel he will likely be back sooner rather than later. I do not anticipate him playing in Portland on Thursday night. I believe the next game is at home against Memphis. It feels like that could be a possibility. Especially, you know, having a home game and before they hit the road again. But officially speaking, Jacque Vaughn was asked about it before the Kings game and said that it’s a day-by-day issue for him.”

Brooklyn is 4-3 without Irving during his suspension, including a 153-121 loss to the Kings Tuesday night in Sacramento. Brooklyn is 6-9 overall, 5.5 games behind first-place Boston in the Eastern Conference standings.

Irving, 30, is averaging 26.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists for the Nets this season.