Report: Kyrie Irving Won't Return for Nets vs. Magic Because of NBA Health Protocols

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 16, 2021

Sarah Stier

Guard Kyrie Irving reportedly won't play for the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday against the Orlando Magic.

According to ESPN's Malika Andrews, Irving's absence will be due to the NBA's health and safety protocols.

Irving has been away from the team since last week for personal reasons, and if he does not play Saturday, it will mark his sixth missed game in a row.

During his absence, video surfaced showing Irving maskless at what appeared to be a family birthday party.

As a result, the NBA announced Friday that it fined him $50,000 for violating the league's health and safety protocols:

ESPN's Bobby Marks reported Irving also forfeited $816,898 in salary for two of the games he missed.

The Nets have gone 3-2 without Irving in the past five games, but there is a great deal of excitement surrounding the franchise after the acquisition of guard James Harden from the Houston Rockets on Thursday.

Harden will help form arguably the NBA's preeminent Big Three along with Irving and Kevin Durant. Nets head coach Steve Nash said he should make his team debut Saturday against the Magic.

That would give the Nets two-thirds of their new Big Three—a frightening prospect for opposing teams in its own right.

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When Irving returns, Brooklyn will regain the six-time All-Star who also won an NBA championship in his time alongside LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving has appeared in only 27 games for the Nets over the past two seasons, but he has been excellent when on the court.

He averaged 27.4 points, 6.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds in 20 games last season and is averaging 27.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds this season.

Durant and Harden have both won MVP awards, but as the point guard and primary ball-handler, Irving may prove to be the straw that stirs the drink.