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Nets optimistic Kyrie Irving could soon be allowed to play in New York City

New York City's mayor expressed optimism that vaccination requirements will be lifted soon, which could pave the way for Irving's full-time return.

Kyrie Irving has played in just 14 of Brooklyn’s 59 games, averaging 24.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams expressed optimism Wednesday about an eventual lifting of the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, leading to increased hope from the Brooklyn Nets that star guard Kyrie Irving might soon be participating as a full-time player.

“Kyrie’s been great on the practice floor. He’s been great in film sessions,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “He’s been creating dialogue over aspects of our play. So, I sense a real focus and urgency from him. So, if that’s any indication, I would say he is getting excited about the prospect of being allowed to play in all our games, and hopefully in the short term.”

If New York City eliminates or lifts restrictions associated with its vaccination mandate, unvaccinated workers such as Irving might be able to return to work without restrictions.

Irving, 29, has played in just 14 of Brooklyn’s 59 games, averaging 24.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists for a Nets team sitting in eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, after superstar Kevin Durant suffered a sprained left medial collateral ligament back in January that forced him to miss the team’s last 17 contests.

How will a potential change to New York City's vaccine mandate impact Kyrie Irving and the Nets?

Adams expressed a desire for New York City to “get back to a level of normalcy,” saying “I can’t wait to get it done” when asked by reporters whether the city would start to phase out vaccination restrictions. Under New York City’s current vaccination mandate, Irving is only allowed to participate in away games.

Nash called Adams comments “great” before adding the anticipated lifting of the mandates are “not really in our control. So, we’ll leave it up to the mayor and wait patiently.”

The Nets are seven games behind the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls for the conference lead with 23 games remaining on the schedule.

It’s unknown when Durant might return to the lineup, and new addition Ben Simmons continues to ramp up his work for a potential return. Nets general manager Sean Marks said both continue to participate in individual workouts in preparation for their eventual returns to the floor.

Irving, meanwhile, is working towards being able to play every game once New York City’s mandate is lifted, according to Nash.

“So, if the mandate is lifted, the expectation would be that he can play in all our games,” Nash said. “I think that’s what he’s been waiting for, and what he’s excited about. If the opportunity arises, the plan and the goal is to play every night.”

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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