- Kyrie Irving has been out with a shoulder injury since November 12.
- The Brooklyn Nets on Thursday said Irving has not been cleared for contact, and he is two weeks past when the team expected him to resume practicing.
- The Nets knew they’d be without Kevin Durant for the season, but Irving missing so much time gives reason to be concerned about the future of a duo in which the Nets invested $300 million.
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The Brooklyn Nets had one of the splashiest offseasons in the NBA when they landed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but they haven’t seen much of either this season.
Durant, of course, is out with a torn Achilles and is expected to miss the entire season. Irving, however, has been out since November 14 with a shoulder injury that is lasting longer than expected.
Irving missed his 19th game on Thursday, a 94-82 loss to the New York Knicks. On Thursday, ESPN’s Malika Andrews reported that Irving had still not been cleared for contact, meaning a return is still a while off.
According to Andrews, on December 8, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said that they expected Irving to resume practicing within a week or two. Two and a half weeks later, Irving is still not back on the court.
The Nets are calling Irving’s injury a “shoulder impingement.” Atkinson shot down the idea of Irving needing surgery on Thursday, saying he still rehabbing, according to Andrews.
Irving was 11 games into a career season when he got injured. Irving was averaging a career-high 28.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game on 44% shooting, though the Nets were only 4-7. They have gone 12-7 since.
There is reason for the Nets to be concerned. This will be the sixth time in nine seasons that Irving has played less than 70 games; it will be the fifth season he’s missed more than 20 games. Irving has a history of knee injuries, and though the shoulder is obviously unrelated, there are questions about his durability.
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The Nets have $300 million tied up in Durant and Irving. That cost is worthwhile to have a dynamic duo that should make the Nets championship contenders when they are healthy. But there is reasonable concern over how both players will fair over the course of their contracts.
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