Kyrie Irving returns to practice; Steve Nash expects him to play Wednesday

Published January 20, 2021, 12:00 AMNBA.com News Services

The Nets' guard practiced with the team on Tuesday.

NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving rejoined the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, saying he took a leave of absence because he “just needed a pause.”

Irving practiced with the team and could play Wednesday in Cleveland. He has missed the last seven games, five while away from the team and two more while regaining his conditioning after he was eligible to return.

Nets coach Steve Nash told reporters he expects Irving will return to the court against the Cavs. Per Nash, Irving returned to the team and practiced on Tuesday. Irving has missed the team’s last seven games due to a combination of personal reasons and health and safety protocols.

Resting his head on his arms folded in front of him while he spoke during a Zoom interview, Irving didn’t give a clear reason for his absence, saying he had a lot of family and personal stuff going on.

Irving was fined $50,000 for violating the NBA’s health and safety protocols after he was seen in a video posted on social media during his absence at an indoor family party while not wearing a mask. He also lost nearly $900,000 of his $33.5 million salary because two of the games he missed were during a mandated quarantine period.

Irving said he was happy to be back with the team, which acquired James Harden during his absence. The Nets have won both games since the trade. Irving is averaging 27.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists while shooting 50.4% overall and 42.6% on 3-pointers this season.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.