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The Brooklyn Nets are desperate enough to cave to Kyrie Irving’s vaccine status, despite the fact he won’t be allowed to play home games in New York City.
NYC still enforces a vaccine mandate for city employees, which would include Irving, should he want to play home games at Barclays. Instead, the Nets are so shorthanded due to COVID-19 cases and a lack of load management for their star players, that they’re finally willing to bring back Irving on a part-time basis.
Whether it’s a good idea to bring back an unvaccinated Irving in the middle of a COVID-19 surge countrywide is a different conversation entirely — and frankly brings with it an easy answer (NO).
Nonetheless, this is professional basketball, and the Nets need wins. Competitiveness, wins and money trumps all in the Association.
When might Kyrie Irving return?
There is no return date in sight for Irving, per Adrian Wojnarowski. However, Irving can start practicing at the Nets facility, meaning Steve Nash and Co. can start ramping him up to in-game competition, even if it can only happen on the road for specific games.
Kyrie Irving returns: NBA Twitter reacts
Despite the struggles of players around the Association to stay COVID-19 free, NBA fans were surprised that the Nets were willing to cave to Irving, who still as far as we know has no intent of getting vaccinated.
The Nets took such a hardline stance for so long, but with James Harden and Kevin Durant taking the brunt of the brunt of physicality from opposing teams, and racking up some intense minutes, the timing is now to bring back a player of Irving’s stature.
Such a decision could come back to bite the Nets, especially if Irving contracts or spreads COVID-19 in the locker room. But it’s a risk Brooklyn is willing to take.