Kyrie Irving appears content to be a part-time player, and his Nets teammates and coaching staff have sounded thrilled they will have another superstar for road games.
Asking Irving to get a COVID-19 vaccine, which would enable him to play at Barclays Center, too, apparently has not been broached.
Coach Steve Nash said he and the unvaccinated Irving have not talked about the vaccines since the Nets officially welcomed the star point guard back Dec. 17.
“Not since we had those conversations in the preseason,” Nash said before the Nets lost, 110-102, to the 76ers at Barclays Center on Thursday night.
During the preseason, New York City passed a mandate that requires proof of vaccination to enter indoor arenas, and on Oct. 12, the Nets announced Irving, who refused the shots, would not be allowed to play with the team solely for road games.
The COVID-19 outbreak on the Nets this month made the team reconsider, and Irving can begin his campaign as soon as Wednesday at Indiana.
Irving still has not shown a willingness to be vaccinated and has been happy just to be back.
“I knew the consequences,” of not being vaccinated, Irving said Wednesday, referring to the games missed. “I wasn’t prepared for them, by no stretch of the imagination. Coming into the season, I had my thought process of being able to be a full-time teammate and just go out and have fun and provide a great brand of basketball out there. But unfortunately, it didn’t happen like that.”
There are a possible 22 road games remaining in the regular season, and Irving’s Nets teammates will appreciate however much he can play.
He looked “elite” in practice, James Harden said.
“He’s a master,” Kevin Durant said. “He can score 60 percent, 70 percent of his shots if you don’t guard him. He’s a high IQ player. It’s just a matter of getting his legs up under him, his wind up under him.”
For the first time in a long time, the Nets looked like a mostly healthy team.
After missing Irving all season and recently being ravaged by the coronavirus, the Nets have returned everyone from their COVID-19 protocols except rookie forward Kessler Edwards.
On Thursday rookies Day’Ron Sharpe (who was out for the game because of conditioning) and David Duke Jr. cleared the protocols, a day after Cam Thomas was cleared.
“Locker room is full again,” said small forward Bruce Brown, who had missed three games in the protocols. “I didn’t see everybody in a while, so it was good to see.”
The 76ers, meanwhile, was in the throes of an outbreak that hit head coach Doc Rivers. Assistant Dan Burke assumed the head-coaching duties.
Also stuck in protocols for Philadelphia were former Net Tyler Johnson and former Seton Hall star Myles Powell, along with Danny Green, who missed a fourth straight game.