BOSTON — What was a given is now a reality. Brooklyn star Kyrie Irving is officially out for the rest of the season, after undergoing arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to relieve a right shoulder impingement.
The procedure was performed by team specialist Dr. Riley Williams III at the Hospital for Special Surgery. The Nets termed the surgery successful, and reiterated their earlier projection that Irving is expected to make a full recovery.
“I’m not going to get into the details. That’s far above my pay grade,” Nets GM Sean Marks had said last month after Irving’s decision to have the procedure. “But I think it’s a relatively straightforward procedure and once they get in there they will figure it all out.
“This is something that he should be back in plenty of time to be working out this summer and obviously be ready for next season.”
Irving joined friend Kevin Durant in signing four-year max contracts with the Nets in June. But while it was always understood that Durant would miss the entire season recovering from a ruptured Achilles suffered in the NBA Finals, Irving was expected to lead the team.
It hasn’t happened.
While Irving was stellar when he played – averaging a career-high 27.4 points, 6.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds – he played far too infrequently, beset by injuries.
First, Irving lost valuable time in training camp and preseason with a facial fracture. Then, trying to make up lost ground, he overworked himself and suffered a shoulder impingement on Nov. 4 against New Orleans. He kept playing for 10 more days and aggravated the injury Nov. 14 at Denver, proceeding to miss the next 26 straight games.
The Post first reported that surgery could be an option back on Dec. 4. A month later Irving admitted it could be a possibility, and on Tuesday it became a reality, ending his season ending after just 20 games.
With next season starting in October, and training camp a month earlier, Irving should be ready. Dr. Stephen Hunt of Tri-County Orthopedics in Morristown, N.J., told The Post that Irving should be on schedule presuming no cartilage damage or setbacks in recovery.
“Most impingement issues tend to have good resolution with a less invasive approach like that,” Dr. Hunt, who is a consultant with the Jets and has worked with the Mets, told The Post.
“There are other issues in terms of rotator cuff, things like that, that can add time to recovery…But I’d say certainly by six months from now I’d think in most situations people would be fairly recovered. Obviously he’s a high-level athlete, that’s his shooting arm, so that may take a little longer. It depends what they did at the time of the procedure.”
It should be noted that Irving – along with Durant and Joe Harris – was named among the 44 finalists for the Olympic Team.
An IOC spokesman said that the Tokyo Olympics, slated for July 24-Aug. 9, will go on as scheduled despite coronavirus. And Durant’s business partner Rich Kleiman told the Washington Post that the star forward may play for Team USA before he ever suits up for Brooklyn.
“That’s going to be up to Kevin,” Kenny Atkinson told The Post. “You know me: I love international (basketball). I’ll never say don’t go. But you get all the information, get everything together and ultimately it’s going to be up to him.”
Could the same be said of Irving? He has a different injury and a different timeline, but would he play in Tokyo?
Harris, a pending unrestricted free agent, said he’d love to re-sign in Brooklyn, partly to get a chance to play with a healthy Durant and Irving. Could that happen in Tokyo before it happens in Barclays Center?
“I haven’t thought about it a ton, to be honest,” Harris told the Post. “It’s one of those things where the format of it is obviously different. They’re just going to pick the team in the beginning of June.
“It’ll be the team they pick. It’s not even like the setup we did last year in (Las) Vegas, where you have everybody come out and work out and stuff together. But I haven’t put a ton of thought behind it.”