NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 18: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets takes a looks on against the Milwaukee Bucks during their game at Barclays Center on January 18, 2020 in New York City.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

After an extended absence from the team and a significant fine, Kyrie Irving may return to the Brooklyn Nets this weekend.

The latest chapter of As the Kyrie Turns has come to a close, but not after some serious twists and turns.

After being caught on video without his mask on at a birthday party, Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has been fined $50,000 for violation of health and safety protocols. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported the latest development.

Additionally, Malika Andrews of ESPN reported Irving could return to the Nets on Saturday following his quarantine. Bobby Marks later added Irving stands to lose over $800,000 in salary from his absence.

Kyrie Irving has been absent from the Nets for personal reasons and has not played since Jan. 5. Prior to his leaving the team, he was averaging 27.1 points and 6.1 assists per game. Irving was also shooting an incredible 50.4% from the field and 42.6% from three-point range.

Now, he returns to a team far different from the one he unceremoniously left. The Nets acquired the former MVP from the Houston Rockets in a four-team blockbuster trade. The deal saw dynamic guard Caris LeVert move to the Indiana Pacers, Victor Oladipo to Houston, and Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

JB’s Take

And what’s going to happen once Kyrie Irving returns to Brooklyn? Well, that remains to be seen. He’s having a great season, which also happens to be his first playing alongside Kevin Durant. However, something was clearly bothering him enough that he just left the team without saying why except it was a personal reason.

This is a big deal, as Harden and Durant were teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder early in their careers. In 2012, Durant led the league in scoring while Harden was named Sixth Man of the Year. Nine years later, Brooklyn’s lineup now features two former No. 1 picks as well as two former MVPs. The recipe for success is there.

But that all depends on Kyrie Irving. He’s always played by his own rules throughout his NBA career, and this time is no exception. That the Harden trade happened during one of his absences makes it seem that whatever the reason was that he left the team, his head isn’t in the game.

Maybe he’s dealing with a very personal family emergency. Perhaps he’s just going through some stuff and went to an indoor party unmasked just to blow off some steam. Maybe he’s so deep in his feelings that even Drake is worried about him.

One way or another, the Nets Kyrie Irving left are not the same Nets anymore. Hopefully, he returns ready, willing, and able to help Brooklyn contend in the East.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.