Dec 18, 2021 - Sports

Brooklyn Nets bring back Kyrie Irving part-time

Kyrie Irving. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving will rejoin the team as a part-time player following a COVID-19 vaccine holdout, the team announced on Friday.

Why it matters: The NBA is facing a rising number of positive COVID-19 cases with 39 players — roughly 8% of the league's total player roster — in the NBA's Health and Safety Protocols, AP writes.

  • The Nets, the top team in the Eastern Conference, currently have seven players out due to health and safety protocols, including All-Star James Harden.

Catch up quick: Irving, a seven-time All-Star, hasn't been able to play or practice with the Nets due to the local COVID-19 vaccine rules. New York City residents are required to have proof of at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine to enter indoor arenas or gyms.

  • Irving has previously told CBS that he likes to "keep that stuff private" when asked about his vaccine status.
  • In October, general manager Sean Marks said that the team will not "permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability."

The big picture: Irving still has to test negative on five successive days before he can join the team, ESPN reports, as well as get back into game shape.

  • After the initial tests, Irving must still take a COVID-19 test every day as an unvaccinated player.

But, but, but: Irving will not be eligible to play against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks' home court, due to local vaccine mandates.

  • He'll also be ineligible to play against the Toronto Raptors. Unvaccinated players are not allowed to travel across the Canadian border starting in January, ESPN writes.

What they're saying: "We arrived at this decision with the full support of our players and after careful consideration of our current circumstances, including players missing games due to injuries and health and safety protocols," Marks said in a statement.

  • "We believe that the addition of Kyrie will not only make us a better team but allow us to more optimally balance the physical demand on the entire roster," he added said.

What's next: The Nets' next away game is Dec. 23 against the Portland Trail Blazers and another one on Christmas Day against the Los Angeles Lakers.

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