The Brooklyn Nets are almost definitely getting a grand total of zero games from Kevin Durant this season. They might not end up getting much more from their other star free agent, Kyrie Irving.
The Nets point guard told reporters Saturday that he received a cortisone shot to his injured shoulder on Dec. 24, and will have his status reassessed two months from then. The reported hope is he can avoid arthroscopic surgery, which would cost him 3-4 months.
Irving got the shot Dec. 24. He and the #Nets will assess after two months and will hope he can avoid arthroscopic surgery. But that’s certainly possible. He admits he considered it, but it’d take him out 3-4 months.— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) January 4, 2020
Irving said surgery “has definitely crossed my mind,” especially with Durant out this season. Said he thought about the present and trying to play with team and worry about next year when it comes. He will continue to rehab and see where it goes.— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) January 4, 2020
Irving’s shoulder is reportedly in rough enough shape that he can’t lift his shoulder up to shoot the ball due to bursitis.
That’s unfortunate news for both Irving and the Nets (and makes Irving’s lengthy response to certain fans calling him a coward for missing games much more understandable). Irving burst out of the gate in his first 11 games with the Nets, averaging career highs in points (28.5), assists (7.2) and rebounds (5.4) in 11 games.
Irving’s last game came on Nov. 14. It now looks like he’ll be out until at least late February, and could potentially be out for the entire season if he needs surgery.
The Nets are still in the playoff picture
While you would assume missing two freshly signed max free agents would be a death knell for a team’s playoff hopes, the 16-17 Nets still hold the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. That’s obviously a product of the East’s weakness, but there’s reason enough to believe the Nets could stay afloat without Irving for the near future.
Spencer Dinwiddie has played like a star in Irving’s absence, and the Nets are getting another strong player back in the lineup with the return of Caris LeVert. Few expected the Nets to be a serious contender this year with Durant using the season to recover from an Achilles tear, so the Nets should still be fine in the long run.
The organization’s foundation is part of what made it an attractive destination for Durant and Irving, and making the playoffs with little contribution from those two would certainly demonstrate that.
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