James Harden among Nets Cleared from COVID Protocol

James Harden talks with teammates during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It was the first bit of good news the Nets have had in a while. James Harden, along with Paul Millsap and Jevon Carter cleared health and safety protocol, head coach Steve Nash announced on Thursday morning.

Millsap had entered protocol on Dec. 13, while Harden and Carter had entered on Dec. 14. The Nets are scheduled to play the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas day and the Clippers two days later, but Nash wouldn’t commit to the three playing in either of those games when he spoke to the media for the first time since Saturday.

“We’ll see. We’re kinda going to go day by day here,” Nash said. “We’ll see where they’re at and what they’re able to do, and make some decisions.”

The Nets season has essentially been on hold since the league postponed games against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, Washington Wizards on Tuesday and Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday. Brooklyn’s first game back is slated to be a nationally televised game against the Lakers on Christmas.

The Nets are still planning on flying west to LA on Friday to play Saturday, but it’s unclear if they will get any time to practice before the first game back. The NBA has made it pretty clear their priority is to keep the season going and protect the slate of five games taking place on Christmas.

Nash seemed to take a sympathetic attitude towards the position the NBA has found itself in while trying to decide what to do during the COVID outbreak.

“The league is in a tough position,” Nash said. “Do you shut it down and extend it or what do you do? You could shut it down and still, the West Coast could get hit by the virus later, and then what? We shut it down again? I could understand it’s tricky to navigate and there’s no right answer and there’s a lot of things to consider. It’s probably something they spend way more time thinking about than I have.”

It wasn’t all good news for the Nets, however. Three players went into protocol, including David Duke, Kessler Edwards and Cam Thomas. That means Brooklyn’s total number of players in COVID protocol remained at 10.

The COVID cases among the Nets players have largely been asymptomatic, according to Nash. The players that have had symptoms have only had mild symptoms.

Healthy players have been able to get back on the court individually to do some workouts individually, but that only started very recently.

With Brooklyn’s first game back on the court, Nash is trying to utilize the pause as a way to get a fresh start.

“We have to look at it as an opportunity to kind of transition back to playing. We hit the reset button,” Nash said. “Refocus on some of our principles and our identities. For us it’s always about progress and it’s always nice to win games. It’s nice to have a good record, but really we’re trying to find progress. We jump back into that focus of getting better and hopefully, we’re competitive and win games.

“Most importantly getting back to what we do, what we’re trying to accomplish and trying to get back on that path of improvement.”