His refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine has prevented him from playing in New York City and the team initially opted against having him be a part-time player.
That has since changed as the Nets and the rest of the NBA continue to be hit hard by COVID-related absences.
The Nets are bringing Irving back as a road-exclusive player and his debut is officially on the calendar.
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is expected to make his season debut Wednesday on the road against the Indiana Pacers, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. After missing the Nets’ first 35 games of the season, Irving has targeted Wednesday for his return.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 3, 2022
Irving is set to return Wednesday on the road against the Indiana Pacers.
Thus begins his journey as a part-time player on a Nets team with championship expectations.
The Road Schedule Ahead
Irving can still only play on the road and that means there will be stretches of time where he is not seen.
The Nets’ next road game after Wednesday’s comes January 12 in Chicago.
After two more home games, the Nets have a four-game road trip that should allow Irving to get in some sort of rhythm after such a stop-and-go return.
They’re back. KD & Kyrie. pic.twitter.com/eIoyIO87NZ
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) December 30, 2021
Only having Irving available on the road is going to be weird and it will be interesting to see how the Nets navigate this situation.
But then they have a totally different dynamic when playing at home.
And what will happen when the postseason begins?
There may be a scenario where the Nets are actually at a disadvantage for having home-court advantage because they will be without Irving.
How many times has playing at home been a bad thing in NBA history?
This rare journey starts Wednesday as fans wait to see if Irving is even in proper game shape after missing so much time.