Nets coach Steve Nash watches from the bench during the...

Nets coach Steve Nash watches from the bench during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Atlanta.  Credit: AP/John Bazemore

During the next week, Kyrie Irving is likely to resume his career playing for the Nets. On Oct. 12, the organization told him he could not be a part-time player because he was not in compliance with a New York City vaccine mandate. But the Nets reversed that position on Dec. 17 and welcomed Irving back into the fold.

His first opportunity to play will be Wednesday at Indiana. So the Nets essentially will have two teams going forward – the road team that includes Irving and the home team that does not include Irving.

Asked how he expects to manage that dynamic, Nets coach Steve Nash said, "I may be a little naïve but I think just keep it really simple. Kyrie plays on the road and we figure out how he rejoins the group, finds his rhythm and his place in the team. When we come home, we’re back to normal the way we’ve been all year. Just try to keep it really simple.

"Don’t overanalyze it or complicate it. Try to enjoy it and try to put him in a position to succeed and to enjoy what he’s doing and then the positives of having him back can be high and that can also have an effect hopefully on us when he’s not in the lineup and guys are having not as much of a burden in every single game."

What Nash meant was that Kevin Durant and James Harden won’t have to carry as much of a burden as they have so far this season because Irving’s availability in road games will decrease their minutes. But when he’s not available for home games, the burden on Durant and Harden will be the same as it has been.

Asked if he has talked to Irving since training camp about getting a vaccination to make him eligible for all Nets games, Nash said, "No, not since we had those conversations in the preseason. Since then, we have not."

76ers' Rivers in COVID protocols

Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers went into health and safety protocols and did not coach the 76ers against the Nets Thursday night. The 76ers used assistant coach Dan Burke in his place. Rivers joins Denver's Michael Malone, the Lakers' Frank Vogel, Chicago’s Billy Donovan, Phoenix’s Monty Williams, Portland’s Chauncey Billups and Oklahoma City’s Mark Daigneault as head coaches in the protocols. — AP

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