Nets' Kyrie Irving now permitted to practice at team facility

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Kyrie Irving dunks with two hands Pelicans
Kyrie Irving dunks with two hands Pelicans

Nets coach Steve Nash said Kyrie Irving may join the team for practice on Saturday or Sunday following a New York City ruling that stated Irving would be allowed to practice at the team facility.

Irving missed the Nets’ practices in Brooklyn this week and their home game on Friday, presumably because he’s unvaccinated for COVID-19.

A local ordinance requires Knicks and Nets players to be vaccinated to play in home games in New York City.

Previously, Irving wasn’t allowed to practice at the Nets facility in Brooklyn because of the ordinance.

But a City Hall official said on Friday that New York City sees the Nets’ practice facility as a private office. That designation allows Irving to practice at the site because the city has ruled that private offices aren’t subject to the local vaccine ordinance.

“It’s positive for us to be able to welcome him back in the building to practice and be a part of the team,” Nash said on Friday. “…But this is all brand new information to us, as well, so (we’re) trying to work through what some of the details are. I’m not trying to comment too much on it until I know firmly what the parameters are but (it) sounds like it’s positive news.”

Irving still will not be permitted to play at Barclays Center in Brooklyn if he’s unvaccinated, the city official said.

The official pointed out that Barclays Center – like movie theaters or restaurants – is open to the public. Therefore, it’s subject to the city’s vaccine mandate, dubbed the "Key to NYC Mandate."

If Irving remains unvaccinated, he could miss 43 games (41 at Barclays and two at Madison Square Garden). It’s unclear how the Nets would approach the situation.

Nash was asked on Friday if his thoughts on Irving potentially being a part-time player had changed now that he’d be able to practice with the team.

“I think all I would say is my first thought is that it's positive. We have him around the team for a larger period of our season. And we'll see what happens,” Nash said. “This rule just came in. Is another one coming? Is he going to be allowed to play at home at some point? Is he not going to be able to practice in our facility at some point?

“We're just kind of following the latest and I don't think that anyone has been through this before. Obviously, the pandemic has been new to everyone but now we're in a position where the pandemic is creating all these different, new scenarios as well.

“I really don't know what to say other than that it's positive that he can now rejoin his teammates in our practice center and train and gives us more touch points with him and we'll go from there.”

In addition to Nash, Nets owner Joe Tsai, general manager Sean Marks, and Kevin Durant have all spoken out about Irving’s situation, with Durant saying he expects Irving to be a full-time player this year.

If Irving remains unvaccinated, he could lose $381,000 per game. New York City’s ruling at the Nets practice facility Friday was first reported by The Athletic.