By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer
Kyrie Irving doesn’t know when he’ll get his first playing time of the season. The fact that it’s sooner than later is good enough for him right now. Irving returned to practice Wednesday with the Brooklyn Nets. He is out of the NBA’s health and safety protocols and potentially just a few days away from suiting up with the Eastern Conference leaders for the first time this season. A possible return date is Jan. 5, when Brooklyn visits Indiana, the next scheduled road game for the Nets. Irving hasn’t played this season because he is unvaccinated and therefore not compliant with local rules in New York regarding those who work in the city. The Nets decided earlier this month that the time was right for Irving to return at least for road games.