Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets handles the ball against...

Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets handles the ball against Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on February 01, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona.  Credit: Getty Images/Christian Petersen

Nets general manager Sean Marks on Friday stopped short of saying he thinks the unvaccinated Kyrie Irving might be able to play in home games during the playoffs. But Marks did say he’s "optimistic" that recent trends loosening COVID-19 rules could be beneficial to the Nets’ hopes of having Irving as a full-time player at some point.

Marks, speaking on a Zoom conference call to discuss Thursday’s Ben Simmons and James Harden mega-trade, said Irving’s status for the playoffs is not the top thing on his mind.

"Regarding the playoff situation, I think that’s something we cross — we cross that bridge at that point," he said. "I think the concerns for us are immediate, right? Like it’s right now. What are we doing? How we bring in these new players into our fold here and how we can get the team healthy and back together as quick as possible and trending in the right direction."

The Nets enter Saturday’s game in Miami having lost 10 in a row. Irving can play against the Heat, but not in the team’s final three games before the All-Star break under New York City’s current COVID rules.

"The decision on the mandate, that’s obviously far above my pay grade and not something that I’m overly concerned about now," Marks said. "I think we’re always going to be optimistic. I just look around the world and I see things are changing, whether it’s the mask mandates, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and then you’ve got entire countries who are changing their outlook on Omicron and COVID and so forth. So again, far bigger discussion.

"My hope would be that by the time we roll around to the playoffs, if not sooner. The world looks like a different place and the more people that are vaccinated and so forth, and we’re moving on. Economies have to keep moving, let alone NBA franchises."

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