Report: Nets Concerned Kyrie Irving Won't Rejoin Team 'Anytime Soon'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2021

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) looks to pass during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
Mary Schwalm/Associated Press

There is reportedly concern Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving's absence from the team will continue for the foreseeable future.

According to SNY's Ian Begley and Scott Thompson, a source with knowledge of the situation said some close to the team are worried Irving "won't be back anytime soon."

Irving will miss his fourth consecutive game Tuesday after leaving the team last week for "personal reasons." During that absence, videos that appear to show a maskless Irving at a family birthday party have surfaced on social media.

Per ESPN's Malika Andrews and Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA is reviewing the videos, meaning Irving could be subject to punishments such as a fine if he was deemed to be in violation of the league's COVID-19 protocols.

Irving may also have to go through an extended process before rejoining the team in the form of returning negative COVID-19 tests several days in succession.

Andrews and Wojnarowski added that in addition to missing Tuesday's game against the Denver Nuggets, Irving is expected to miss Wednesday against the New York Knicks and Saturday against the Orlando Magic at minimum as well.

Since the NBA's COVID-19 rules ban players from attending social gatherings of more than 15 people, the videos apparently showing Kyrie at a party are of great concern to the league, especially amid multiple teams dealing with coronavirus cases currently, including the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.

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Houston Rockets guard James Harden was fined $50,000 after partying in Houston without a mask in December. He also had to quarantine for four days and test negative for COVID-19 daily, but he did not miss any games.

Irving, 28, is in the midst of his second season with the Nets. He missed all but 20 games last season because of injury, but there was a great deal of excitement surrounding the team this season due to the return of Irving and Kevin Durant.

Brooklyn is off to an uneven 5-6 start, however, and it is just 0-3 during Irving's three-game absence. The Nets have lost each of their past two games without Irving, falling to the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder.

When he has played this season, Irving has been exceptional, averaging 27.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds in seven games.

The six-time All-Star and one-time NBA champion is one of the best and most talented guards in the NBA, so it comes as little surprise that the Nets have missed him in a big way and are struggling without him on the court.

If they are without him for at least three more games as the ESPN report suggests, the Nets may be forced to play catch-up in their attempt to secure an Eastern Conference playoff spot.