After a lengthy break from the Nets, an NBA investigation, and endless speculation about what might come next, Kyrie Irving has been cleared to return to the Brooklyn roster as soon as Saturday, assuming he continues to show negative COVID-19 tests until then.
This all was announced Friday morning by the NBA, in addition to details of the $50,000 fine Irving will face for breaking protocols. This matches James Harden’s fine as a first-time rule breaker. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the expectation is that Irving will return to the team on Saturday.
The NBA has fined the Nets' Kyrie Irving $50,000 for violating the league's health and safety protocols and assigned him a five-day quarantine
He will forfeit more than $400,000 in salary per game for those missed during quarantine at a rate of 1/81.6 of his season salary pic.twitter.com/oaj4u0dWHm
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 15, 2021
As long as he tests negative and clears protocol, Kyrie Irving will be available and expected to play for the Nets vs. Orlando on Saturday, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 15, 2021
But unlike his new teammate, who ended up getting somewhat lucky that a separate incident from other Rockets players forced the league to postpone their opening-night game and allowed Harden to avoid missing any games, Irving will also be subject to the forfeiture of his salary for four missed games.
Kyrie Irving will forfeit $816,898 for the 2 games missed this past week.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) January 15, 2021
To be clear, Irving has already missed five straight games for the Nets, even if he is cleared to return in time for Saturday’s home matchup against the Magic. The league has determined that only the four most recent games were missed specifically because he would not have been available due to breaking the NBA health and safety protocol. Irving missed the other games for “personal reasons,” according to the team.
Earlier this week, the NBA began investigating footage showing Irving maskless in a public setting while celebrating his sister’s birthday. The investigation seemingly deemed that interaction relatively low risk, so now as long as Irving continues to test negative, he can rejoin the suddenly even more fascinating Nets, who just pulled off a mega-trade for Harden.