“Renewed Optimism” About Possibility Of Irving Returning To Nets

There’s “renewed optimism” about the possibility of Kyrie Irving suiting up for the Nets this season, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

Irving hasn’t played at all in 2021/22, since he remains unvaccinated against COVID-19 and a municipal mandate in New York City prevents him from playing in home games. He’s eligible to participate in road games, but the Nets decided they didn’t want him to be a part-time player.

In order for Irving to return to action for Brooklyn, one of three things would need to happen:

  1. New York City would need to repeal or adjust its vaccine mandate.
  2. Irving would need to get vaccinated.
  3. The Nets would need to allow him to take part in road games.

Charania’s report doesn’t specify which of these routes is most likely. However, he notes that multiple City Hall officials – from both the outgoing and incoming NYC administrations – have told The Athletic that there are no plans to eliminate the mandate requiring individuals to be vaccinated in order to enter indoor venues.

That would leave vaccination or an adjustment to the Nets’ policy for road games as the only realistic paths for an Irving return. Charania doesn’t know which of those scenarios might come to fruition, but has heard recently from sources that Kyrie could play this season after all.

According to Charania, Irving and his good friend Kevin Durant have been talking more often as of late about his fit with the team, the Nets’ games, and life in general. There “appears to be an increased level of enthusiasm between the two superstars,” Charania adds.

This is just my speculation, but one report back in September stated there was a belief that Durant would help convince Irving to take the vaccine — perhaps that will ultimately happen a few months later.

Another recent report indicated that Irving may be interested in taking a plant-based vaccine, which is going through clinical trials, but it’s still likely months away from receiving full approval.

If Irving gets fully vaccinated, he would be eligible to play in all of Brooklyn’s home and road games. If the Nets adjust their policy and allow the star guard to play without being vaccinated, he would remain ineligible to play in home games, as well as in road games vs. the Knicks and Raptors.

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