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Kyrie Irving could return to Nets this season

/ 03:51 PM December 14, 2021
Kyrie Irving Nets

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 02, 2021 Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets cheers from the bench during a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by KEVORK DJANSEZIAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

There is renewed optimism that star point guard Kyrie Irving could return to play for the Brooklyn Nets this season after all, The Athletic reported Monday.

It’s unclear which side harbors the optimism. It’s also unclear whether Irving’s would-be return signifies a willingness to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or the team relaxing its stance to allow Irving to play road games, per the report.

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Irving, 29, is sitting out because of New York City’s mandate requiring at least one shot of the COVID vaccine to be able to enter certain buildings — including entertainment venues such as the Nets’ home arena, Barclays Center.

Further, the team decided Oct. 12 that it wouldn’t allow Irving to be a part-time player.

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“He’s an elite player. We all know that. If he gets vaccinated, we’ll welcome him back on the team, but if he’s not vaccinated, we’ve made a decision that it would be too disruptive for him to come in and out of games, play only away games. So that was never going to fly. It’s that simple,” Nets owner Joe Tsai said in an interview in late October.

Irving, a seven-time All-Star, played in 54 regular-season games for the Nets last season and averaged 26.9 points, 6.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds.

In 582 career games (all starts) with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2011-17), Boston Celtics (2017-19) and Nets, he has averages of 22.8 points, 5.7 assists and 3.8 rebounds.

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