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Kevin Durant celebrates with an American flag after Team USA won the men’s gold medal basketball match against France on Aug. 6, 2021. Durant entered the NBA’s health and safety coronavirus protocols on Saturday, Dec. 18.
Kevin Durant celebrates with an American flag after Team USA won the men’s gold medal basketball match against France on Aug. 6, 2021. Durant entered the NBA’s health and safety coronavirus protocols on Saturday, Dec. 18. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant and guard Kyrie Irving entered the NBA's health and safety protocols Saturday, becoming the eighth and ninth members of the Nets to do so in the past week. The news came less than 24 hours after the Nets announced that Irving, who is not vaccinated, would be allowed to play for the team on the road in cities without vaccination mandates.

Irving will need five consecutive days of negative tests to practice with the team, after which point he will be tested every day as an unvaccinated player.

Other Nets players in the league's coronavirus protocols include guard James Harden, Paul Millsap and LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as a few members of the coaching staff, according to Coach Steve Nash. Brooklyn now has nine players in health and safety protocols.

Durant is also the fourth former MVP to be placed in the protocols this week, joining Harden, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, who played in Los Angeles's loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday after testing out.

Durant last played Thursday against the Philadelphia 76ers, dropping 34 points while adding 11 rebounds and eight assists in Brooklyn's 114-105 victory. Earlier in the week, he expressed his desire for his sidelined teammates to return.

"I hate that my teammates are out," he told reporters. "I wish everybody was playing."

Durant is in the midst of his best season since his 2013-14 MVP campaign. He currently leads the league in scoring with 29.7 points per game, adding 7.9 rebounds and tying a career high in assists per game with 5.9. Irving, on the other hand, hasn't played in a live NBA game since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Bucks last season.

General Manager Sean Marks said the team decided to bring Irving back to balance the physical demands on the entire roster, especially as the team was losing players to the protocols.

"We arrived at this decision with the full support of our players and after careful consideration of our current circumstances, including players missing games due to injuries and health and safety protocols," Marks said Friday in a statement.

The NBA's health and safety protocols require players to be sidelined at least 10 days or to record two negative tests in a 24-hour period before they can resume basketball activities.

On Thursday, the league enhanced its health and safety protocols after a rise in cases throughout the league. Masks are now required in essentially all team activities, including on the bench during games, in the locker room, while traveling and in various rooms through team facilities. The lone exceptions to unmasking are when players are participating in activities on the court and for coaching during games.

Brooklyn, which currently holds the top record in the Eastern Conference, hosts the Orlando Magic in a home game Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Nets are scheduled to play seven games before the new year, including a Christmas Day matchup against the Lakers.Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant entered the NBA's health and safety protocols Saturday, becoming the eighth member of the Nets to do so in the past week. The news comes less than 24 hours after the Nets announced that guard Kyrie Irving, who is not vaccinated, would be allowed to play for the team on the road in cities without vaccination mandates.

Other Nets players in the league's coronavirus protocols include guard James Harden, Paul Millsap and LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as a few members of the coaching staff, according to Coach Steve Nash.

Durant last played Thursday against the Philadelphia 76ers, a game in which he dropped 34 points while adding 11 rebounds and eight assists in Brooklyn's 114-105 victory. Earlier in the week, he expressed his desire for his sidelined teammates to return.

"I hate that my teammates are out," he told reporters. "I wish everybody was playing."

The NBA's health and safety protocols require players to be sidelined at least 10 days or to record two negative tests in a 24-hour period before they can resume basketball activities.

Brooklyn, which currently holds the top record in the Eastern Conference, hosts the Orlando Magic in a home game Saturday at 7:30 p.m.


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