Nets’ Kyrie Irving May Be Full-Time Player Again Soon: Report

Nets star Kyrie Irving in Washington.

Getty Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets gestures during the second quarter against the Washington Wizards.

Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving only appeared in 14 games during the first half of the season. He missed the first 35 games of the campaign since the Nets refused to let him be a part-time player.

However, Brooklyn changed its mind in January and allowed Irving to rejoin the team on a part-time basis. The one-time champion is a part-time player because he’s unvaccinated against COVID-19 and not allowed to play in home games due to New York City’s vaccine mandate.

Irving averaged 24.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists while shooting 45.2% from the field, 36.8% from beyond the arc and 92.5% from the free-throw line in the 14 games he played. The Nets went 31-28 in the first half of the season and are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

A seven-time All-Star, Irving has stated multiple times he has no plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The 2011-12 Rookie of the Year is the only Nets player who hasn’t gotten vaccinated, but that may not matter soon.

New York City Has Plan to Phase out Vaccine Mandate

New York City mayor Eric Adams plans to lift the vaccine mandate soon. Once that happens, Irving can play in home games.

“Yes and I can’t wait to get it done,” Adams said on February 23. “I take my hat off to New Yorkers through masks, vaccines, through social distancing. We were hit with the uncertainty, the fear of COVID. I’m really proud of how we responded as New Yorkers. Every morning, I meet with my health professionals cuz I always stated I’m going to follow the science. I’m not going to get ahead of the science because I’m ready to get ahead of all of this and get back to a level of normalcy, but they’re giving us clear instructions.

“They gave us benchmarks. We’re going to follow those benchmarks, but I look forward to the next weeks going through a real transformation that I don’t have to wonder what you look like. I would know what you look like again and so we’re moving in the right direction. We’re going to do it in a safe way because all of these experts would tell you one thing: we can’t close down again.”

This is huge news for the Nets, who are currently in one of the four play-in spots. Without Irving, Brooklyn went only 13-15 at home during the first half of the season. Once the vaccine mandate gets lifted and Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons return to the court, the Nets could have a dangerous team.

Irving Being a Full-Time Player Makes Nets Lethal

The Nets acquired Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond from the Philadelphia 76ers for James Harden and Paul Millsap.

If Irving becomes a full-time player again, Brooklyn could throw out a starting lineup of Irving, Curry, Durant, Simmons and LaMarcus Aldridge and have a bench mob led by Drummond, Patty Mills, Blake Griffin, Nic Claxton, Goran Dragic and Cam Thomas.

The Nets are 18-12 when Durant and Irving play going back to last season, per Statmuse. The two superstars needed an elite defender and playmaker next to them and they got one in Simmons, a three-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA defender.

Once Durant, Irving and Simmons develop chemistry on the court, the Nets could be lethal on both sides of the ball. Durant and Irving are three-level scorers who can score from anywhere on the court and shoot over anyone and Simmons is a magnificent passer who can get a steal on one end, weave in and out of traffic on the fastbreak and either finish at the rim or kick it out to Mills, Durant or Irving for a jumper.

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