Nets' Steve Nash Gives Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving COVID-19 Protocol Return Updates

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 27, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 16:   Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets celebrates a 114-105 win against the Philadelphia 76ers during their game at Barclays Center on December 16, 2021 in New York City.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash said Kevin Durant could be back with the team as soon as this week when they return to Brooklyn for a Thursday matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers, although Kyrie Irving will need at least a week or two of preparation time once he's eligible to return. 

"I think there's a good chance Kevin will be," Nash told reporters about the possibility of Durant playing this week. "With Kyrie, I'm not so sure, but it's coming. He's already been [in protocols since Dec. 18]. ... He's got to be getting close."

Both players are in the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols. 

While Durant has played in 27 games this season and last appeared for the Nets on Dec. 16 against the Sixers, the unvaccinated Irving has yet to play for the Nets this season and will not be permitted to play home games for the Nets because of New York City's vaccine mandate. 

Early in the season, the Nets' stance was that they wouldn't allow Irving to be a part-time player in road games. But with injuries and players in the health and safety protocols mounting, the Nets changed their stance this month, only to see Irving immediately placed in the protocols.

So once Irving is cleared, he'll still need some time to get back into the flow of things before he's ready to appear in road matchups.

"It's hard to say, but I would say probably somewhere between a week and two weeks," Nash said of that warm-up period. "He's obviously been isolating so that kind of puts another layer to the ramp-up. It's not like he's been working out, so probably I'd imagine it's going to be closer to two weeks once he comes out of protocols. We'll just have to see how it goes, though, because we have to evaluate him from a physical and performance standpoint and a basketball standpoint as well."

Getting Irving back will be a boost. The Nets have still managed to go 22-9, tops in the Eastern Conference, but it hasn't come easy given those obstacles. James Harden said the seven-time All-Star's return would be "huge for us."

"Hopefully we can get him back full-time," center Nic Claxton added. "But it's definitely gonna be scary hours [with Irving back]. I think he's gonna break the game for us and make things easier for everybody on the court. And I'm just... I'm ready to get my brother back."