Nets ready to travel for Christmas game after James Harden, Paul Millsap clear protocols

Brooklyn Nets guards James Harden and Jevon Carter and forward Paul Millsap have all cleared the NBA's health and safety protocols, head coach Steve Nash told reporters on Thursday.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving remain in the protocols, and Nash said he does not expect any player in the protocols to be out of them by Saturday. And Kessler Edwards, Cam Thomas and David Duke Jr. recently entered the health protocols, Nash said.

But the Nets have enough players to fly to Los Angeles on Friday and play on Saturday, Nash said. The Los Angeles Lakers host the Nets at 8 p.m. ET on Christmas. The minimum to play a game is eight. Players could still be added to the health and safety protocols in the 48 hours leading up to game time.

The Nets at one point had 10 players in protocols, resulting in a postponed game this week. The NBA sent out a memo about a contingency plan for the five games on Christmas if there were COVID-19 issues. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 30 players combined on the 10 teams involved were in protocols, per the Associated Press.

Nets' COVID-19 outbreak

James Harden
James Harden is out of the COVID-19 health and safety protocols, head coach Steve Nash said. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

A number of Nets players entered the health and safety protocols on Dec. 14. Seven players missed the game against the Philadelphia 76ers a week ago. The group consisted of Harden, Carter, Millsap, LaMarcus Aldridge, Bruce Brown, DeAndre’ Bembry and James Johnson.

Durant entered the protocols days later. The club said it would welcome back guard Irving, who was sitting out the season due to his vaccination status. He has not received the COVID-19 vaccine, and per New York state policy, he is not allowed to play at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Irving then entered the protocols within 24 hours. Nash said Thursday they would ramp him up to game-level when he cleared the protocols.

Nash said Thursday morning the players in protocols have been "largely asymptomatic," per CBS Sports' James Herbert, and the players with symptoms have mostly had "very mild" cases.

It forced the postponement of Thursday's game at the Portland Trail Blazers since the Nets did not have enough players to travel and play.

The Nets (21-9) and Lakers (16-16) is the prime-time game on ABC. A change to that game, if needed, could be made as late as Christmas Eve.