Steve Nash open to using Kyrie Irving off bench

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving isn’t getting the usual conditioning in preparation for a long NBA season.

The 29-year-old is expected to miss all four preseason games and wasn’t eligible to practice with the team until this past weekend because of his unvaccinated status. Unless he decides to get vaccinated against COVID-19, he will remain ineligible to play in home games, per New York City ordinance.

There’s now speculation on whether Irving will be conditioned enough by the time the season starts.

On Sunday, Nets head coach Steve Nash admitted that this situation might lead to the seven-time All-Star losing his starting position — at least temporarily.

Nash said “it’s possible” that he might bring Irving off the bench in the regular season, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

“We’ll see. We haven’t really got there yet,” Nash said. “We’re still trying to process all of the possibilities. That might take us some time to see where his body’s at. No one’s ever done that before. I wouldn’t know what precedents there are, and what’s the best way to do it. We’re really trying to navigate it as we go.”

Nash already has shown he’s willing to make his superstars come off the bench if it means health is prioritized.

Last year, Nash had both Kevin Durant and James Harden come off the bench after returning from injuries. The Nets coach wanted to play things safe then, so it’s possible he will take a similar approach with Irving.