Brooklyn Nets to pick up James Harden for Christmas game against Los Angeles Lakers
The Brooklyn Nets will have James Harden at Christmas, but Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving remain in health and safety protocols and were ruled out for Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Nets coach Steve Nash has said Harden will play against the Lakers and the Nets will also have forward DeAndre ‘Bembry, swingman Bruce Brown and forward James Johnson. All three nets have been cleared of health and safety protocols.
The Nets still have seven players in health and safety protocols, including Durant, Irving and LaMarcus Aldridge. Cam Thomas, David Duke Jr., Kessler Edwards and Day’Ron Sharpe are the other Nets in the protocols.
Nash said any Net who is exempt from protocols could still join the team later in Los Angeles, where the Nets face the Clippers on December 27. Things remain fluid for the Nets, who have seen their last three games postponed.
“We’re doing our best,” Nash said before the team left for Los Angeles on Friday. “We have a lot of guys coming out of an extended break. Nobody is in great shape so we have to manage the group, try to be as competitive as possible and at the same time be careful, the guys come out and play the game after an absence like that, it’s tricky.
“We’ll do what we can. A lot of those decisions still have to be made, before the game, during the game, as the game progresses. We just have to be very fluid, adaptable and have the right attitude and the take it as an opportunity. “
Nash said Irving would not be joining the team on this two-game road trip to Southern California. The playmaker has yet to ramp up once he is cleared to stick to protocol before he can make his season debut. The Nets have yet to see Irving on the field since deciding to let the point guard return to the team as a part-time player last week. Irving entered health and safety protocols on Dec. 18 with Durant.
“No we didn’t,” Nash said, when asked if he had ever seen Irving on the pitch. “He’s still in protocols. And he needs to ramp up, so we won’t see Kyrie on this trip.”
Irving hasn’t been with the team regularly since the first week of training camp in early October. The team have decided not to have their part-time point guard play during the preseason as Irving cannot participate in games at the Barclays Center due to New York City’s vaccination mandate.
With Irving unable to play at home, the Nets will have to wait for another road trip for their playmaker to eventually return. After these two upcoming games in Los Angeles, the Nets do not get back on the road until January 5 in Indiana. After that, they don’t play another road game until Jan. 12 in Chicago.
If Irving isn’t back by then, a road game in Cleveland on Jan. 17 could also be a possibility. The Nets, however, are finally starting to collect the bodies. Harden will play his first game since playing against Atlanta on December 10. And Nash has said center Nic Claxton (wrist) will be available to play on Saturday.
The Nets were able to come together for light practice Friday morning after shutting things down earlier this week with up to 10 players on health and safety protocols. Point guard Patty Mills said the Nets’ break felt like “a mini offseason.”
“In a way, we’ve faced different parts of adversity throughout the season,” said Mills. “On the pitch, off the pitch, the COVID protocols, the injuries, whatever. It’s just another of those obstacles on the road, I think.
“The vibe today compared to what it’s been all week, seeing everyone again, it was like a mini offseason, and then ‘Alright, let’s get back to business.’ We still have a lot of work to do to find out who is still missing and who has yet to come back. “