Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving hasn’t played all season because of his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and there have even been rumors that he could be traded because of it.

However, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, there is apparently renewed optimism within the Nets organization that a Kyrie return may happen at some point this season:

There is renewed optimism around Irving returning to the Nets this season, sources with knowledge of the situation tell The Athletic.

It remains unclear whether Irving’s potential return this season would come via vaccination to meet New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement or by Brooklyn opening the door for him to play road games and practice at home, but sources have indicated a renewed belief that Irving could play this season after all. Nets players and coaches want to have Irving rejoin the team as soon as possible. In recent weeks, Irving and Kevin Durant, his co-star and close friend, have had increased communication about his fit on the team, breaking down the games, and about life in general, sources added. There appears to be an increased level of enthusiasm between the two superstars.

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Again, it’s hard to imagine how this would play out. New York City isn’t going to change its vaccine mandate, but as Shams mentioned, the Nets could allow the veteran guard to practice in Brooklyn and then play games strictly on the road. That would likely confuse rotations from week to week, but there’s no doubt the Nets would like to have Kyrie back in the fold in some shape or form.

Brooklyn is doing just fine without him, sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference with a 19-8 record. But if Irving is alongside KD and Harden and they all stay healthy, it’s hard to imagine anyone beating this team come playoff time.

This will be an interesting situation to keep a close eye on in the coming weeks.