James Harden back with Nets, Kyrie Irving will have to ramp up once he returns


The Nets will have James Harden available for their Christmas Day game against the Lakers, as head coach Steve Nash said the star guard is officially out of the league’s health and safety protocols.

Brooklyn has been painfully shorthanded, like much of the league, with Kevin Durant and many others also in health and safety protocols. But Harden, along with Paul Millsap and Jevon Carter, are all ready to return to the team.

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Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre’ Bembry all remain in protocol, as does Kyrie Irving, who was set to return to the team in a part time role for road games, but he was in the league’s protocol within 24 hours of the Nets announcing Irving’s return. Nash told reporters on Thursday that Irving will certainly need time to build up to game shape once he is out of protocol, so his return likely won’t be right away.

As for the Nets as a whole, the plan is still to play the Lakers on Christmas, even after Brooklyn’s last three games were postponed. Contingency plans have been put in place by the league in case games need to be postponed or moved, but Nash and the Nets are planning to battle Los Angeles on Saturday.

“The plan is to fly to Los Angeles [Friday] and play Christmas,” Nash said. “There was a couple days where we had to shut everything down out of precaution. But once we got back to a cadence, healthy guys could do one-on-one workouts, but no group workouts. It basically just started up yesterday and today…it’s tricky. We haven’t been able to do a lot, but we do what we can.”

Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1

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