The Nets are slated to begin a four-game trip to the West Coast on Saturday afternoon, when Brooklyn visits the Los Angeles Clippers.
Both teams have been off since winning home games against their crosstown rivals Wednesday night. The Nets made a brief stop at home in Brooklyn where they routed the New York Knicks, 112-85. The Clippers were the host team for a 114-101 win over their co-tenants, the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nets issued Irving an indefinite suspension of no fewer than five games on Nov. 3 after he Tweeted a link to an anti-Semitic film and then refused to apologize. After he was suspended, Irving apologized via Instagram.
Irving has subsequently met with Brooklyn owner Joe Tsai and NBA commissioner Adam Silver. While Irving could return at any point beginning Sunday, when the Nets visit the Lakers, ESPN reported Friday that Irving isn't expected to return during the road trip, which runs through Thursday and includes games at Sacramento and Portland.
The Nets are 3-1 without Irving with consecutive road wins over the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets and a 96-94 loss at Dallas prior to Wednesday's rout of the Knicks. Kevin Durant, who arrived with Irving prior to the 2019-20 season, is averaging 27.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists over the four games and recorded a triple-double Wednesday (29 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists).
Head coach Jacque Vaughn, who had the interim tag removed Wednesday, said Friday the Nets aren't thinking about when or if Irving will return.
"Focus has been on this group," said Vaughn, who was hired to replace Steve Nash on Nov. 1, following the team's 2-5 start. "I think that's sometimes the best. Give someone space and focus on the task and the group at hand."
The Clippers also have shown signs of climbing out of an early season hole. The win Wednesday was the fifth in six games for Los Angeles, which started 2-4.
The win over the Lakers was the most lopsided victory of the season for the Clippers, whose first six wins were by a combined 27 points. The Clippers led by 17 points after the first quarter Wednesday and after squandering the lead, they took control with a 13-2 run late in the third. Marcus Morris Sr. had a pair of 3-pointers in the surge.
The Clippers have won all nine games they have played against the Lakers since the start of the 2020-21 season under head coach Tyronn Lue.
"I was proud of how we came out in the third quarter and took control of the game," Lue said. "Just being able to get it back in the second half and understanding it's a competition, not a show. I know it's the two L.A. teams, but we're playing to get better every night, so it's not a show."
--Field Level Media