NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving is rejoining the Brooklyn Nets, who need help and will settle for it on a part-time basis.

The Nets decided Friday that Irving would come back to practice and play in road games, even though he remains unable to play at home because he doesn’t meet New York City’s vaccine mandate.

The Nets originally determined that Irving wouldn’t play with them at all until he could play in all games. But worried about the heavy workload on Kevin Durant and short-handed with seven players unavailable because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the Nets figured they couldn’t pass up the chance to add the All-Star guard.

“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,” general manager Sean 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.”

Members of New York’s pro and college teams must be vaccinated against the coronavirus to be able to play in public arenas. Irving refused to get vaccinated and hasn’t practiced with the Nets since October.

Given that layoff, it’s unclear how soon he will be ready to play. Even though the Nets lead the Eastern Conference at 21-8, they are desperate for healthy players.

Starters James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre’ Bembry are in health and safety protocols, along with Paul Millsap, Bruce Brown, James Johnson and Jevon Carter.

It’s forced Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer, to play far more minutes than the Nets would like. Steve Nash told Durant on Thursday that he needed to let him rest. The Nets announced Saturday that Durant would rest his sore right ankle in Orlando against the start of a back–to-back.

The Nets decided on Friday that their point guard would practice with them and play road games, even though he remains unable to play at home because he doesn’t meet New York City’s vaccine mandate.
Source: Associated Press

With the rise in coronavirus infections and players being tested positive for it, critics are coming to light about Irving’s return.

But with Harden still struggling at times after a hamstring injury in the playoffs, the Nets have been unable to come close to the offense that last season was one of the NBA’s most potent. Irving’s average of 26.9 points per season last year should be a catalyst to help them get back on track.

He’ll still need to miss road games against Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks unless he has been vaccinated. However, the Nets will allow him to play for all other events as long as his results are negative.

Irving is allowed to practice at home, as the Nets’ training facility was deemed a private venue.

Irving faces stricter guidelines if he continues to be an unvaccinated participant, but additional testing and mask wearing will resume this month.


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