Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving will be shut down for the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury. Irving, a six-time NBA All-Star, will undergo surgery and get ready for next season with Kevin Durant.
Irving, 27, is a former #1 draft pick. The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Irving out of Duke in 2011. He played five seasons in Cleveland and won a championship with LeBron James in 2016. The head-strong Irving clashed with LeBron, but both parties later chalked it up to immaturity.
This year has been a short, but disappointing season in Brooklyn for Irving and the Nets. Through 53 games, Irving played only 20 times due to a shoulder impingement injury and a sprained knee. He averaged a career high 27.4 points per game, which is five points above his career average.
“Kyrie Irving is obviously upset about this, and we are here to support him, support the process moving forward with his injury and the rehabilitation,” said Nets General manager Sean Marks. “He saw specialists, including our people at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, and it has been a group consensus that at this point in time, and this juncture, this is the best course of action.”
“Tough blow,” said Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. “We’ll have to close ranks and guys are going to have to step up and guys will have opportunity.”
Nets fans, the Twitterverse, and NYC sports talk radio all wondered why Irving didn’t opt for surgery earlier in the season. He previously missed time with other ailments, such as a knee sprain.
Moody and Banged Up
Even on days when he wasn’t nursing an injury, the mercurial Irving would run the gamut of emotions during his volatile mood swings. In short, you never know what you’re going to get out of Irving between his mind and body.
Irving joined the Nets after two rough seasons with the Boston Celtics. At this time last season, everyone anticipated that Irving and Kevin Durant would bounce to New York City to join the Knicks. Well, they got the city correct. Both Durant and Irving blew off the Knicks, but opted to play for the Brooklyn Nets instead. Losing both high-profile free agents was a huge blow to the Knicks, as the Nets became the big show in town.
The Nets knew Durant would miss this season while recovering from a blown Achilles, which he suffered in the NBA Finals. However, the Nets didn’t expect Irving would play only 20 games before a shoulder injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
Irving missed the first two months of the season with a right shoulder impingement. He responded to a cortisone shot and returned to the lineup in January. He then sprained his knee against the Washington Wizards, and missed several games before the All-Star Break.
The initial cortisone shot in his shoulder wore off. Instead of another shot, Kyrie Irving and the team opted for surgery to fix his shoulder injury.
“We are looking at the big picture here,” said Nets GM Sean Marks. “We are not looking at the next two to three months. We are looking at the next two to three years.”
“We’ll have to start fresh next season and figure it out quickly,” said head coach Kenny Atkinson. “But that is the disappointing part about losing Kyrie Irving.”
What’s Next for Brooklyn?
Despite Irving missing 33 games, the Brooklyn Nets (25-28) are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. The Nets headed into the All-Star Break with a victory over the Toronto Raptors. The Nets snapped the Raptors’ 15-game winning streak.
If the season were to end today, the Nets would have the #7 seed, despite being three games under .500. The east is only six teams deep, with the rest of the conference filled with losing teams.
Backup point guard Spencer Dinwiddie stepped up to fill the void for Irving when he first missed games with a shoulder injury. Dinwiddie averages 21 points, 6.6 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game.
Caris LeVert will see a lot more of the rock. He’s averaging 15.3 ppg after returning to action following a thumb injury. LeVert exploded for 37 points in a 1-point loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Atkinson will also rely on Joe Harris (13.8 ppg) and Taurean Prince (12.4 ppg) to absorb some of the scoring burden. Jarrett Allen (11.1 ppg, 9.7 rebounds) also has an opportunity to show the Nets he can also provide more scoring punch aside from wiping the boards clean.
According to a recent update by William Hill, the Brooklyn Nets are 85/1 odds to win the 2020 NBA championship, even after losing Kyrie Irving to a season-ending shoulder injury.