JANUARY 4: Irving isn’t listed on the Nets’ injury report for Wednesday’s game in Indiana, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. That means the plan is for him to be available for the first time this season.
JANUARY 3: Nets point guard Kyrie Irving is expected to make his season debut on Wednesday vs. the Pacers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Irving has targeted the game in Indiana for his return.
Irving has been held out of action for most of the first half because he’s ineligible to play games in New York due to the city’s COVID-19 vaccinate mandate and the Nets initially didn’t want him to be a part-time player only active for road games. However, after being hit by a flurry of injuries and COVID-related absences in December, the team reversed course on that stance.
Irving was immediately placed in the health and safety protocols due to a positive COVID-19 test when he reported to the team last month, which may have further delayed his debut. Still, he would have required a week or two of ramp-up work to get back in game shape.
The Nets, who are hosting Memphis tonight, will play just two road games in the next couple weeks — Wednesday in Indiana and January 12 in Chicago. However, the team will begin a four-game road trip on January 17, which should give Irving an opportunity to be a regular part of the lineup for a little while.
With no indication that Irving plans to get vaccinated or that New York City plans to change its vaccination guidelines any time soon, it’s unclear how long the new arrangement may continue for Kyrie and the Nets.