By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving’s return to the Brooklyn Nets is beginning with a visit to the NBA’s well being and security protocols — and Kevin Durant is becoming a member of him.
The Nets’ outbreak worsened Saturday after they introduced each stars have been in protocols, giving them a league-high 9 gamers on the harm report for that purpose.
“These are unforeseen circumstances and I hate to say it, it’s almost like we’ve gone back to six months, a year ago unfortunately with the cases rising,” Nets common supervisor Sean Marks mentioned.
Durant already was scheduled for an evening off to relaxation Saturday in opposition to Orlando on the opening evening of a back-to-back. Instead, he grew to become ineligible to play anyway when he was added to the harm report.
The Nets determined Friday that Irving would rejoin them for practices and street video games, although he stays ineligible to play at dwelling as a result of he hasn’t met New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for athletes taking part in in the town’s public venues.
The Nets decided earlier than the season that Irving would not be a part-time participant and would not be with the workforce until he might play in all their video games. But involved with the heavy burden Durant has confronted — his 37 minutes per recreation are second in the league — and needing so as to add a physique whereas they hold dropping them, they mentioned the purpose guard could be again.
“Several months ago we made a decision that was based around what was best for the team,” Marks said. “What was best for the team at that point was continuity and I think we all see that continuity right now over the course of the last week and whatever the future looks like maybe out the window for a while, and we’ve got to navigate that as best we can.”
Irving first wanted to get examined to be cleared to play and apparently he both examined optimistic or had an inconclusive consequence. The Nets additionally acknowledged the danger of bringing Irving again at the moment, with Marks saying he hadn’t spoken to him about whether or not he supposed to get vaccinated.
“There’s also a risk for Kyrie when a guy comes in and if they’re not vaccinated,” Marks mentioned. “I don’t want to get into those type of discussions but that’s a risk for him coming into this environment, not just the team and so forth. But we’re all well aware of the status and his status and moving forward and how we’ll navigate this as best we can.”
James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre’ Bembry, Bruce Brown, Jevon Carter, Paul Millsap and James Johnson all are listed as out due to the protocols.
Needing to have eight gamers to start out a recreation, the Nets scrapped their plan to relaxation Patty Mills and mentioned he could be accessible. They additionally signed swingman James Ennis III and guard Shaquille Harrison to 10-day contracts.
Elsewhere, Chicago beforehand had 10 gamers in well being and security protocols, inflicting two of their video games this week to be postponed. Three of them have been cleared as of Friday, placing the Bulls on observe to renew Sunday in opposition to the Lakers.
Brooklyn’s woes make Orlando’s appear minor. The Magic nonetheless have 5 gamers out for protocols.
Also Saturday, Cavaliers rookie ahead Evan Mobley entered well being and security protocols.
Mobley has been a serious purpose for Cleveland’s surprising and stunning begin this season. The No. 3 general draft choose has been pretty much as good as marketed whereas serving to the Cavs go 18-12 and surge into fourth spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Mobley missed 4 video games earlier this season with an elbow sprain, and the Cavaliers misplaced all of them. Mobley additionally sat out Cleveland’s 35-point win over Houston on Wednesday with a hip harm not believed to be severe.
Cleveland, which received simply 22 video games final season, is driving a five-game profitable streak heading into Saturday’s recreation at Milwaukee. The Bucks might be with out famous person Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was positioned in the protocols earlier this week.
Cavaliers swingman Isaac Okoro was additionally positioned in protocols on Thursday, and the coronavirus has sidelined a number of different outstanding gamers throughout the NBA.
A quantity have been lacking in Boston, the place the Knicks added rookie Miles McBride to an harm report that grew to 6 gamers in well being and security protocols. The Celtics even have six gamers in protocols.
“Nobody is feeling sorry for you,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “The league is what it is and guys are coming and going on every team. That’s when you look at your mainstays and guys that are available to carry you.”
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland and freelance author Ken Powtak in Boston contributed to this report.
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