James Harden returning for Nets-Lakers Christmas Day clash

The Nets are expected to have enough healthy bodies to lay their highly anticipated Christmas Day game at the Lakers — just barely.

And James Harden is expected to be among them, although fellow Big 3 members Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving aren’t.

“The plan is to fly to Los Angeles (Friday) and play Christmas,” Steve Nash said Thursday. “We had to shut everything down just out of precaution. But once we got back to a cadence, healthy guys could do one-on-0 workouts, but no group workouts.

“It basically just started up (Wednesday), and (now) guys are back on the court. And in isolation. It’s tricky. We haven’t been able to do a lot; but we do what we can and we will continue to adapt as the rules and mandates come in.”

After having their last three games postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak and a raft of players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, three players have cleared protocols (Harden, Paul Millsap and Jevon Carter) while three new ones went in (rookies Cam Thomas, Kessler Edwards and David Duke Jr.).

That leaves Brooklyn with 10 players in protocols (including Durant, the league’s leading scorer, and Irving) and starter Joe Harris out with an ankle injury. Young center Nic Claxton’s status with a sore wrist is up in the air.

James Harden has returned to the Nets after being cleared from COVID protocols.
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Brooklyn has signed four hardship replacements, and Nash said he doesn’t anticipate adding any more, even though no more sidelined players are expected to clear protocols before the Lakers tilt on Christmas Day.

In addition to Durant and Irving, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre’ Bembry, Bruce Brown, James Johnson and Day’Ron Sharpe all went into protocols on Dec. 14 or Dec. 18, and are still in.

“We are not expecting anyone else to come out of protocols,” Nash said. “But it is possible. I think you have to do two negative tests 24 hours apart; I guess that gives us to (Thursday night) and (Friday) night to return two negatives. But we’re not predicting anybody to come out necessarily.”