The 21-8 Brooklyn Nets just got even better … but only in away games. After it was reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic on Monday that there was increased hope Kyrie Irving would return to the team this season, it got one step closer to reality on Friday.
Charania has now reported that Irving has begun his process of returning to the team. It’s now clear that he hasn’t received the COVID-19 vaccine and that Brooklyn is reversing its statement from Oct. 12 to allow the point guard to be a part-time player.
Irving will be allowed to practice with the team and will only be available to play in road games.
Due to seven players entering the health and safety protocols this week, the Nets haven’t been practicing. Because of that, it’s still undetermined as to when Irving will rejoin the team.
Kyrie Irving to rejoin the Brooklyn Nets as a part-time player.
Before Thursday’s game against Philadelphia, Steve Nash expressed his concern over Kevin Durant’s workload. He said, “I don’t think that we can continue to lean on him (Durant) the way we have. It doesn’t feel right.”
The 33-year-old is averaging 37 minutes per game, the fourth-most in the NBA and the most for him since he averaged 38.5 with Oklahoma City in 2013-14. James Harden is averaging 36.2 minutes per game, which is eighth in the league.
Now, KD will have Irving to take some of the pressure off of him during away games. Harden will also benefit from Irving’s return because he’ll be able to reassume the role as shooting guard for road games.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the “injuries, players lost to health and safety protocols, and an inordinate minutes load on their superstar players led the team to this move.”
Irving has been working out, but he hasn’t played in a game since June 13. He still has to make it past several COVID-19 obstacles before Brooklyn can evaluate what kind of shape he’s in. Also, since it’s still unclear when he’ll return to practice amid the Nets’ COVID-19 outbreak, there’s no way to know for sure when his first game with the team will be.
When asked in the past about the chances of Irving returning, Nash made it clear that the team would be “ecstatic” if the point guard were to decide to rejoin the team, and that they’d welcome him back with open arms.
The Nets get to do that … but not on their own terms.