AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
The Brooklyn Nets will get some reinforcements after Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and LaMarcus Aldridge all cleared COVID-19 protocols on Tuesday, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
Durant last played Dec. 16, while Aldridge has been out since Dec. 12.
Irving has not played this season because he is not vaccinated against the coronavirus, which makes him ineligible to play games in New York. The Nets brought him back earlier this month and will allow him to play in road games where eligible.
Brooklyn was especially hit hard by COVID-19 and was forced to postpone three games last week, but the team has competed in its last two and is scheduled to host the Philadelphia 76ers at Barclays Center on Thursday.
Irving won’t be eligible to play until the Jan. 5 road game against the Indiana Pacers, but the guard will likely need time to get ready for the season anyway.
Nets head coach Steve Nash recently explained the upcoming process for Irving:
“It’s hard to say, but I would say probably somewhere between a week and two weeks. He’s obviously been isolating so that kind of puts another layer to the ramp-up. It’s not like he’s been working out so probably I’d imagine it’s going to be closer to two weeks once he comes out of protocols. We’ll just have to see how it goes, though, because we have to evaluate him from a physical and performance standpoint and a basketball standpoint as well.”
Irving should still provide a significant boost for Brooklyn. The seven-time All-Star averaged 26.9 points and 6.0 assists per game last year.
Durant will be an even bigger difference-maker when he gets on the court. He is the NBA’s leading scorer this season with 29.7 points per game. The four-time scoring champ has looked as good as ever when healthy, shooting 52.3 percent from the field while scoring in a lot of different ways.
Aldridge has also been reliable off the bench, averaging 14.0 points and 5.7 rebounds in 23.6 minutes per game.
Despite the issues this season, the Nets enter Tuesday with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 23-9. With the squad close to full strength, it can be even scarier going forward.