NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets Coach Steve Nash said the organization is “hopeful” that Kyrie Irving could make his season debut Wednesday at Indianapolis, “but no determinations have been made yet.”

Irving has not been vaccinated against the coronavirus, which makes him ineligible to play home games under a New York City vaccine mandate. The Nets initially rejected the prospect of having Irving play only road games before reconsidering when a COVID-19 outbreak depleted the team’s roster.

Asked what would be the determining factors in Irving’s return, Nash said, “how he feels and whether we determine it is safe for him to come back.”

Nets General Manager Sean Marks said on Dec. 18 that the team was open to bringing Irving back as a part-time player. At the time, Brooklyn had 10 players in the COVID-19 protocol.

The Nets have been worried about how much they’ve used the other two stars on their roster, Kevin Durant and James Harden. Entering Monday night’s game against Memphis, Durant was averaging 37.1 minutes per game and Harden was averaging 36.7 minutes.

Brooklyn entered Monday’s game with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.

In addition to home games at Barclays Center, Irving cannot play at the New York Knicks’ arena, Madison Square Garden, or at Golden State or Toronto because of vaccine mandates in those teams’ home cities.

TRADE: Once Ricky Rubio was lost for the season, the Cleveland Cavaliers knew it would take someone special to take his spot.

They needed a playmaking guard with experience, intelligence and competitive toughness.

Rajon Rondo checked every box.

Cleveland completed its acquisition of the 35-year-old Rondo, finalizing its trade with the Los Angeles Lakers in what eventually became a three-team deal involving the New York Knicks.

In the swap, the Knicks receive guard Denzel Valentine from the Cavaliers along with the draft rights to international prospects Wang Zhelin and Brad Newley and cash from the Lakers. Los Angeles receives the draft rights to Louis Labeyrie from New York.

A four-time All-Star and twice an NBA champion, Rondo, who was barely playing with the Lakers, is joining an improved Cleveland team that has risen from doormat to playoff contender.

The Cavs are 21-15 and fifth in the Eastern Conference after going 22-50 last season.

Rondo was recently sidelined after a positive COVID-19 test but has cleared NBA health and safety protocols. It’s not yet known when he’ll join the Cavaliers, who are still working through some logistics with him.

Cleveland hosts Memphis on Tuesday before beginning a six-game, nine-day trip in Portland on Thursday.

Losing the invaluable Rubio to a torn anterior cruciate ligament is a blow for the Cavs. The 31-year-old’s impact in less than a half-season with Cleveland was profound whether as a mentor to young starting point guard Darius Garland or his solid leadership on and off the floor.

Rondo has many of those same attributes – and a similar game – to Rubio’s.

ROCKETS: The Houston Rockets suspended guard Kevin Porter Jr. and forward Christian Wood for Monday’s game against Philadelphia for conduct detrimental to the team.

Wood is Houston’s leading scorer at 16.8 points. He and Porter both had meltdowns in a loss Saturday to Houston and neither player played in the second half.

Rockets Coach Stephen Silas said Porter had a “spirited debate” and “lost his temper” at halftime, “to the point where I thought what would be best for the team and best for our culture as a group, and just making sure that everybody is on the same page, I thought it would be best for him to be suspended for today’s game.”

The Athletic and other media outlets reported, based on sources, that Porter and Wood were called out at halftime by assistant coach John Lucas.

Wood did not start the game and only played 8 minutes before he was benched.


WIZARDS 124, HORNETS 121: Kyle Kuzma had a season-high 36 points and 14 rebounds, Bradley Beal scored 35 points, and Washington beat visiting Charlotte.

Charlotte was led by Gordon Hayward’s 27 points. Terry Rozier scored 25 points and Miles Bridges added 23 points and a season-high 14 rebounds.

76ERS 133, ROCKETS 113: Joel Embiid had 31 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, reaching the triple-double to the tune of “MVP!” chants in the Philadelphia’s home win.

Furkan Korkmaz scored 24 points and Isaiah Joe had 18 points for the Sixers.

Garrison Matthews led the Rockets with 23 points.

GRIZZLIES 118, NETS 104: Ja Morant scored 36 points and five Grizzlies scored in double figures as visiting Memphis extended its winning streak to five games.

Desmond Bane scored 29 points, Brandon Clarke added 16, and Jarrett Culver and Tyus Jones had 12 apiece.

Kevin Durant led the Nets with 26 points on 8-for-24 shooting from the field, including 2 for 8 from 3-point range. James Harden added 19 points in 5-for-14 shooting.

PISTONS 115, BUCKS 106: Saddiq Bey scored a career-high 34 points and visiting Detroit ended Milwaukee’s six-game winning streak.

Detroit owns the NBA’s worst record (7-28) but beat the reigning NBA champions and ended its recent futility in this series by getting a boost from the return of several players who had missed multiple games due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Milwaukee had won 12 consecutive regular-season matchups with the Pistons by an average margin of 16.7 points before Monday. That streak didn’t include the Bucks’ four-game sweep of Detroit in a 2019 first-round playoff series.

BULLS 102, MAGIC 98: DeMar DeRozan scored 29 points, Zach LaVine added 27 and host Chicago won its eight straight game.

Nikola Vucevic had 13 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulls. Coby White came off the bench to score 17 points.

Franz Wagner led Orlando with 22 points. Wendell Carter Jr. finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Magic, who lost their sixth straight. Orlando has three wins since Nov. 17.

MAVERICKS 103, NUGGETS 89: Luka Doncic had 21 points and matched a season high with 15 assists as Dallas beat visiting Denver.

Dwight Powell and Reggie Bullock added 15 points each for the Mavericks, who swept a back-to-back and matched their longest winning streak of the season at three games.

Nikola Jokic had 27 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Nuggets, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.

JAZZ 115, PELICANS 104: Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points, Bojan Bogdanovic added 21, and Utah extended its road winning streak to nine games.

Bogdanovic hit two of his five 3s in the final 2:31, the first pushing Utah’s lead to eight points and the second widening the advantage to 11 with 1:22 to go.

Rudy Gobert had 10 points and 18 rebounds for the Jazz, who led by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter. New Orleans briefly got as close as five points before Bogdanovic’s wide-open 3 from the right corner helped Utah pull away again for its seventh victory in eight games.

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