11:26 AM ET
NEW YORK — James Harden and Bruce Brown have entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the Nets announced roughly an hour before Tuesday night’s 131-129 overtime win over the Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center
The two additions brought the team’s total to seven players ruled out due to the protocols within the past day. Forward Paul Millsap entered them Monday, and was followed by forwards LaMarcus Aldridge, James Johnson, DeAndre’ Bembry and guard Jevon Carter earlier Tuesday.
Coach Steve Nash said a “couple” of both coaches and staff members have also entered the protocols.
“We’re not naive enough to not have concerns about more people contracting the virus, but that’s out of our hands,” Nash said shortly before the Harden and Brown announcement.
“We just have to see what the protocols are. We can’t do a lot right now except wait for results to come in and control what’s in our hands, so we’re in a sense playing the waiting game, and in a sense gonna be ready to audible depending on what happens.”
Nash noted that “predominantly” all of the players who had tested positive had been asymptomatic.
Harden walked into Barclays Center about an hour before it was announced he had entered the protocols. Brown, meanwhile, was out on the court warming up before the game.
To clear the league’s health and safety protocols, a player must either be out for a minimum of 10 days, or return two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart.
Kevin Durant, who had been questionable to face Toronto due to right ankle soreness, was cleared to play by the team’s doctors, giving the Nets eight available players for the game: Nic Claxton, David Duke Jr., Kessler Edwards, Blake Griffin, Patty Mills, Day’Ron Sharpe, Cam Thomas and Durant.
Brooklyn remains without Joe Harris (left ankle surgery) and Kyrie Irving (failure to meet New York City’s vaccination requirements).
The Nets faced the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 4. The Bulls were just starting a stretch in which their roster has been decimated by a COVID-19 outbreak.
Chicago had two games this week against Detroit and Toronto postponed — the first NBA games this season to be postponed. Chicago has had Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Troy Brown Jr., Coby White, Javonte Green, Matt Thomas, Derrick Jones Jr., Ayo Dosunmu, Stanley Johnson and Alize Johnson all enter the protocols.
The New York Knicks on Tuesday had their third player in the past four days enter the protocols in rookie guard Quentin Grimes. Obi Toppin and RJ Barrett went into the protocols over the weekend.
The Nets, meanwhile, were simply scrambling to figure out who they would get on the court. ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported that Brooklyn could have as many as five hardship exceptions to try to fill out their roster with more than the eight players they had available Tuesday, but that each one would cost Brooklyn close to $500,000 in luxury taxes.
Ultimately, Nash chose to start rookie guard Duke, who is on a two-way deal, in Harden’s typical starting spot, alongside Durant, Mills, Griffin and Claxton.
“You just do the best you can,” Nash said when asked how he’s trying to navigate such a complex roster situation on the fly. “There’s no magic formula for that.
“You just try to audible and be flexible and go with the information as it comes, not just with the testing and before the game, but also during the game we’re gonna have to be aware and alive and making sure we find the balance between trying to be as competitive as possible but also protecting the group.”
As for another one of Brooklyn’s missing players, Nash said there was no update on Irving’s status as he remains unvaccinated and, thus, ineligible to play games in New York City. The Nets announced before the season that they would not be using Irving as a part-time player.
“I have no updates,” Nash said. “I have connected with him but totally outside of the scope of the question and just in life in general. So, we connected last week, but not with any intel or insight that things are changing.
“I know he’s working out and I know he’d love to be playing, but I think the boundaries are still the same as they were before recent reports.”
Tuesday marked the beginning of a five-game homestand for the Nets. From there, Brooklyn heads out West to face the Portland Trail Blazers on Dec. 23 before playing their two games in Los Angeles this season: first against the Lakers on Christmas Day on ABC/ESPN, and then against the Clippers on Dec. 27.
ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.
Source by www.espn.com