Kyrie Irving’s return to the Brooklyn Nets has met its first setback.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Nets announced that Irving has been placed in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The news comes less than 24 hours after the franchise announced that it would permit Irving to re-join the team on a part-time basis.
MORE: Nets make way for Kyrie to re-join team
Irving, who is not vaccinated for COVID-19, has yet to suit up for the Nets this season.
According to New York City rules for unvaccinated persons, Irving is not allowed to play in Nets home games or road games against the Knicks. Irving is, however, allowed to practice at the team’s private facility and play in road games outside of a visit to the Raptors, which is prohibited due to Canadian laws for unvaccinated athletes.
After initially stating the team would not allow Irving to be a part-time participant, Nets general manager Sean Marks changed his course, citing discussions with players and coaching staff and a lack of player availability due to injury and COVID-19 as the reasons for allowing Irving to re-join the team.
MORE: Team-by-team NBA COVID-19 tracker
Irving is one of nine Nets’ players to enter health and safety protocols this week, with the news of his entry coming just an hour after it was announced that Kevin Durant had been placed in the protocols. Durant and Irving join a list that already included LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre’ Bembry, Bruce Brown, Jevon Carter, James Harden, James Johnson and Paul Millsap.
Wojnarowski reported that Irving’s return to the team is dependent upon him testing negative on five consecutive days. Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News provided clarification that Irving’s entry into the league’s health and safety protocols is an indication that he has returned a COVID-19 test result that is positive or inconclusive.
Got some clarity from the Nets: Kyrie Irving would not have entered the health and safety protocols if he was merely testing to return to the team. He has returned a positive or inconclusive test, which requires 5 days of consecutive negative tests for unvaccinated players.
— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) December 18, 2021
Once Irving is permitted to re-join the team, he will then be placed into a return-to-play program before he is able to make his season debut.
Irving is eligible to play in 24 of the Nets’ 53 remaining games, but his entry into health and safety protocols clouds any timeline of his potential return to action.