Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving Enter NBA Health and Safety Protocols, Among 10 Brooklyn Nets Players Added This Week

Less than a day after deciding to bring Kyrie Irving back as a part-time player, the Brooklyn Nets saw their roster further decimated with Kevin Durant and Irving entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Saturday.

The Nets’ roster has been crushed by COVID-19, with 10 players now in protocols, including Durant, Irving, James Harden and LaMarcus Aldridge. Brooklyn will also be centerless Nic Claxton (wrist pain) against the Orlando Magic on Saturday. The Nets play the Denver Nuggets on Sunday as part of a back-to-back home game.

Sean Marks, Nets general manager, said the decision to bring Irving back was changing course after he made the decision on Oct. 12 that the team would not have him as a part-time player, but would welcome him back when he met the criteria. New York City’s vaccine mandate was prompted by current circumstances that have ravaged the Nets’ roster.

“The overall environment, as we all know, has changed dramatically,” Marks said before Saturday’s game against the Magic. “I walked into the arena today and there are several lines for COVID testing, and there are 200, 300 people in line to be tested. So the environment has changed. COVID has done some on the team and in society in general so that’s definitely changed. Managing our overall player load, that’s something we need to be aware of over the course of this season. We’ve seen big minutes that our boys have had to endure and play, and we have to look at what’s best for the team over the course of the season.”

Marks added: “A few months ago we made a decision based on what was best for the team. What was best for the team at the time was continuity, and I think we all see that continuity now, over the course of the past week, and whatever the future holds, it could be out the window for a while.”

Marks said he hasn’t spoken to Irving yet about whether the guard is open to getting vaccinated later now that he’s rejoining the team.

“I haven’t talked to Kyrie about vaccination status,” Marks said. “I don’t think that was appropriate at the moment. The times I’ve gone to him it’s been about forming bonds and friendships and having conversations about the family, sometimes basketball and so on. Like sometimes, Steve [Nash] has said in the past that he has talked [to Irving], but they never really talk about basketball, you know? We try to continue that camaraderie and so on.

“When he comes back here I’m sure he’ll have conversations with, whether it’s with myself and Steve or with players and so on. But I want to get him back on track, and we’ll have those conversations.”

To take a player out of protocols, he must return two negative tests 24 hours apart.

However, Irving will have to wait before he can make his season debut. Before entering the health and safety protocols, Irving had to return negative COVID-19 test results for five consecutive days before he could join the team, as he is not vaccinated. And then he has to go back to game conditioning.

“Everyone’s case is very different,” Marks said when asked what hurdles Irving must overcome before returning. “It affects everyone differently whether they’ve had vaccines, not been vaccinated, had booster shots and to be honest which variant they caught. So it’s a tricky one.”

When Irving is allowed to return, he will only be able to play with the team on the road due to his unvaccinated status. New York City’s vaccine mandate does not allow Irving to play at Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks. Also, Irving is not currently eligible to play in Toronto on March 1, as travel for unvaccinated players across the border into Canada will be banned from January.

Brooklyn has two more road games with the Knicks. That would leave 24 road games in which Irving would be eligible to play if he is acquitted.

Irving hasn’t been with the team regularly since the first week of training camp in San Diego in late September through early October. Nets owner Joe Tsai, Marks and the team made a joint decision in the preseason to leave Irving out of the team and not be a part-time player and a potential distraction.

Nash was asked about the care of getting an unvaccinated Irving back on the floor.

“It’s something to think about,” Nash said. That said, he is a young man in excellent health. … The chances of something catastrophic happening are slim. But yes, this virus worries me in every corner and aspect of his short life thus far “That’s a concern, but it’s also a concern for the vaccinated. So it’s just something that we have to live with in our world today. And so we’re going to go ahead and do our best to protect everyone and benefit everyone.” to care.”

Marks says the Nets have not yet seen Irving on the ground to determine what shape he is in. Marks said he assumes Irving is in good shape, but has yet to step up once he is released.

Durant had to carry a huge burden before introducing health and safety protocols. The league’s top scorer at 29.7 points per game, Durant is also one of the leaders in minutes per game with 37.0, the most minutes he has averaged in eight years since he averaged in the 2013-14 season. 38.5 minutes played per game. Durant played an average of 41.1 minutes per game in his last nine games and was already out of Saturday’s game due to a sore ankle before entering protocols.

“I think our goal here is to win,” Marks said of the change in thinking to bring Irving back. “Our goal of an organization, of a team, of the GM, of the coach, of the players, everyone knows what they are here to win basketball games. And at the end of the day we are facing this with a roster that has the The last few days has been decimated. And I’m forced to make decisions and I’m not just making those decisions… but essentially this is the best decision for this team right now, coinciding with what we’re dealing with right now.”

Striker Paul Millsap entered protocols on Monday and was followed by Aldridge, James Johnson, DeAndre’ Bembry and Jevon Carter on Tuesday morning. They were joined by Harden and Bruce Brown on Tuesday night.

On Saturday, Durant, Irving and then Day’Ron Sharpe went into health and safety protocols.

This isn’t the first time Durant has been in the league’s protocols for COVID-19. He tested positive in March 2020 during the season sitting out while recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon. Last season, he was considered to be in close contact with someone who had tested positive and had to miss four games while being quarantined for seven days.

The Nets will have to wait an indefinite amount of time before they can see their Big Three on the floor again. They head to the West Coast on Wednesday to play in Portland on December 23, followed by their Christmas game at the Los Angeles Lakers and then a game at the LA Clippers on December 27.

“We’re faced with so many unknowns right now, so many variables,” Nash said when asked how the plan might work with a part-time Irving come-playoff time. “The first is that we’ve decided to include Kyrie. We’ll work on integrating him on the pitch, off the pitch, all those different variables.

“But along the way I don’t know what we’re dealing with, I don’t know what the protocols will be, I don’t know what the league will be like, what the world will be like. So the playoffs are so far away, I think we’re just crossing the first bridge to get Kyrie back and include him in this group.”


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