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Nets’ Kyrie Irving sits out preseason game following birth of child

Kyrie Irving and Joe Harris joined T.J. Warren and Seth Curry on the list of sidelined Nets for their preseason game Thursday night against the shorthanded Heat at Barclays Center. But Nets fans scarred from last season don’t need to worry.

Irving’s absence was a joyous one. He and fiancée Marlene Wilkerson were celebrating the birth Wednesday of their new baby. It was Irving’s third child and second with Wilkerson — a YouTube influencer and lifestyle vlogger — after their baby boy in June 2021. Irving arrived and watched the Nets’ 109-80 loss from the baseline.

Harris was listed as out with a sore foot, but it was really just maintenance after the small forward was limited to just 14 games last season due to ankle injuries. He had not one, but two surgeries, and the preseason opener Monday was his first live action since last November.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant

The Nets’ next game will be Wednesday at Milwaukee. Coach Steve Nash wouldn’t commit to a timeline on the return of either Irving or Harris.

“No not really. Kyrie, I don’t think he’s got much sleep the last couple of nights … but [there was] no point in the preseason on little sleep playing [versus the Heat],” said Nash. “And Joe, just being cautious. He’s had a long layoff for the surgery, and so hopefully it’s resolved quickly. But it’s more precautionary than anything.

“Just trying to [be safe]. I hope it’s not like a lingering thing. I think it’s just a precaution. He’s a little sore and we just want to make sure he gets the proper recovery so he can come back to full strength.”

Kessler Edwards replaced Harris in the starting lineup, while Royce O’Neale got the nod for Irving. Edwards had six points on 1-for-7 shooting, including 0-for-4 from 3-point range. O’Neale had six points and four boards, but added three turnovers and was minus-13.

Harris and O’Neale are at least nominally locked in a battle for the fifth and final starting spot to open games alongside Irving, Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and presumably center Nic Claxton.

Still, Nash steered away from the idea of a direct competition for a starting job.

“They’re both going to play a lot,” said Nash. “I don’t know if one is taking minutes from the other. I think I feel they are both going to play a lot of minutes and play a big role.”

Jimmy Butler was back for Miami after sitting out Tuesday versus the Timberwolves, but Victor Oladipo, Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin (knee) and Omer Yurtseven (ankle) were all out.

Miami coach Erik Spolstra survived LeBron James’ reported early effort to get him fired in 2010, but he wouldn’t be drawn on comparisons to Nash’s situation this summer with Durant.

“I don’t really pay much attention to a lot of things that happened during the summer,” Spoelstra said. “There’s a lot of different emotions that happened after the season, and that’s why a lot of times the off season is just good for everybody to get away and decompress and then start over again.

“And there’s been plenty of examples in the league, where things happen and we get back together, and the games happen and you just start to start the season and a lot of things are forgotten.”

The Nets signed guard Noah Kirkwood after the game.

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