The Nets emerged as one of the biggest winners in free agency when they signed both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to four-year contracts. Brooklyn’s front office never expected Durant to play this season, but with Irving running the show at the Barclays Center, the Nets entered the year with playoff expectations.
Irving’s Brooklyn tenure started off strong with averages of 28.5 points, 7.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds through 11 games. Then a strange shoulder injury forced the six-time All-Star to trade in his jersey for street clothes. Irving hasn’t taken the floor in nearly a month, and there doesn’t seem to be a definitive timeline on his return.
What’s next for the Nets star? Here’s everything we know about Irving’s injury and the latest news on when he may return to the court.
How long will Kyrie Irving be out?
Irving has not yet done contact work since suffering a right shoulder impingement, which has kept him sidelined since mid-November. Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said on Dec. 8 that Irving should rejoin team practices in the “next week or two.”
“The plan is to continue to ramp up his individual on-court work, and from there it’s starting to integrate him in the next week or two into team practices,” Atkinson said (via The New York Post’s Brian Lewis). “Like I always say, that could be a planned practice or us making one up if the game schedule so dictates.”
The nature of a shoulder impingement makes it difficult to forecast how much longer Irving will be out. This particular injury could come down to pain tolerance, as an impingement can cause significant discomfort when the arm is extended above the head, which is critical to the shooting motion.
Here are a few possible return dates if Irving jumps back into team practices soon:
|Potential return date||Nets’ opponent|
|Dec. 15||vs. 76ers|
|Dec. 17||at Pelicans|
|Dec. 19||at Spurs|
|Dec. 21||vs. Hawks|
|Dec. 26||vs. Knicks|
|Dec. 28||at Rockets|
|Dec. 30||at Timberwolves|
Kyrie Irving injury timeline
Despite hurting his shoulder on Nov. 12 against the Jazz, Irving played two days later against the Nuggets. The injury may explain why Irving shot 18-of-50 (36 percent) from the field in those games. Atkinson then told reporters Irving would miss the Nov. 16 contest in Chicago.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson on Kyrie Irving’s shoulder injury: “Definitely played through some pain starting after the hit in Utah and I think he gutted it out against Denver quite honestly. We all thought it was the best interest to give him a game here.”
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) November 16, 2019
Thirteen games later, and Irving remains stuck to the bench. Brooklyn has gone 9-4 in that stretch with Spencer Dinwiddie (23.8 points, 7.5 assists, 3.6 rebounds per game) thriving in Irving’s absence.
Brooklyn has never ruled Irving out indefinitely, so it’s possible he participates in contract drills one day and doesn’t feel any pain. Unfortunately for the Nets, it also wouldn’t be a shock to see Irving sit through the end of December.