Nets' Kevin Durant Enters 'Health Safety Protocols' Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles against Seth Curry #31 of the Philadelphia 76ers during their game at Barclays Center on December 16, 2021 in New York City. (Al Bello/Getty)
By Charles Kim | Saturday, 18 December 2021 02:59 PM
Brooklyn Nets Star Kevin Durant became the ninth team member placed into the NBA’s "health safety protocols" on Saturday and returning unvaccinated star Kyrie Irving’s return will wait a little longer, according to posts on Twitter from sports journalists.
"Nets star Kevin Durant has entered the league’s Covid protocols," ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said in his post Saturday. "That’s eight Nets now."
According to journalist Clay Travis, Durant went into the protocol after testing positive for COVID-19.
The news comes as the Nets expected to play Irving, who was going to be able to play road games if he is tested, the team said Friday.
Irving, 29, isn't allowed to play in home games due to New York City mandates that require players to be vaccinated. He also won't be able to play in road games against the New York Knicks, as well as in Toronto due to Ontario's mandates, Reuters reported.
Once he clears the protocols, he will have to be tested daily to play in road games but can still practice with the team.
"After discussions with our coaches, players and staff, the organization has decided to have Kyrie Irving rejoin the team for games and practices in which he is eligible to participate," Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement to Reuters on Friday. "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.”
Star guard James Harden is also out due to the health protocols, Reuters said.
Irving, a seven-time All-Star, played in 54 regular-season games for the Nets last season and averaged 26.9 points, 6.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds.
He is next eligible to play on the road, Dec. 23, when the 21-8 Nets take on the Portland Trail Blazers for a three-game set.
"If we get the gift of his return, we'll be ecstatic, but we can't count on it," Nets coach Steve Nash said of Irving's potential return earlier this week. "We can't wait for him. We have to get to work, and get better, and our group's been awesome this year."