Kyrie Irving’s return to the Brooklyn Nets has met its first setback.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Nets announced that Irving has been included in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The news comes less than 24 hours after the franchise announced that it would allow Irving to rejoin the team part-time.
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Irving, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, has yet to prepare for the Nets this season.
According to the New York City rules for unvaccinated people, Irving cannot play home games for the Nets or away games against the Knicks. However, Irving is allowed to practice at the team’s private facilities and play games outside of the Raptors visit, which is prohibited under Canadian law for unvaccinated athletes.
After initially stating that the team would not allow Irving to participate part-time, the Nets general manager Sean Marks changed course, citing discussions with players and coaching staff and the unavailability of players due to injuries and COVID-19 as the reasons for allowing Irving to rejoin the team.
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Irving is one of nine Nets players who entered the health and safety protocols this week, and the news of his entry came just an hour after it was announced that Kevin Durant had been included in the protocols. Durant and Irving join a roster that already included LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre’s Bembry, Bruce Brown, Jevon Carter, James Harden, James Johnson and Paul Millsap.
Wojnarowski reported that Irving’s return to the team is dependent on testing negative on five consecutive days. Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News clarified that Irving’s entry into the league’s health and safety protocols is an indication that he has returned a COVID-19 test result that is positive or inconclusive.
I got some clarity from the Nets: Kyrie Irving wouldn’t have gotten into health and safety protocols if he was just trying to get back on the team. You have returned a positive or inconclusive test, which requires 5 consecutive days of negative tests for unvaccinated players.
– Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) December 18, 2023
Once Irving is allowed to rejoin the team, he will be placed on a return-to-game program before he can make his season debut.
Irving is eligible to play in 24 of the Nets’ remaining 53 games, but his entry into health and safety protocols clouds any timeline of his possible return to action.