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Kyrie Irving is officially back after giving long statement declaring Nets have ‘glaring’ needs


The Brooklyn Nets made a tremendous splash this summer by signing both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency, but their project is off to a slow start because of injuries. Durant, of course, is out for the entire season after tearing his Achilles tendon in the NBA Finals, while Irving has already missed 26 games due to a shoulder injury. 

There are clearly championship aspirations in Brooklyn, but that’s definitely not happening this season, and might not ever come depending on what form Durant is in when he gets back on the court. But it’s clear there’s little patience for the process to play out — at least from Irving. Following the Nets’ loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, Irving declared that they have “glaring” needs in order to reach the next level. 

Irving’s full comments, via ESPN:

“I mean, it’s transparent. It’s out there. It’s glaring, in terms of the pieces that we need in order to be at that next level,” Irving said after finishing with 14 points on 6-for-21 shooting in Brooklyn’s 117-106 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center Wednesday night. “I’m going to continue to reiterate it. We’re going to do the best with the guys that we have in our locker room now, and we’ll worry about all the other stuff, in terms of moving pieces and everything else, as an organization down the line in the summer.

“It’s just something that we signed up for. We knew what we were coming into at the beginning of this season. Guys were going down left and right. [Garrett Temple] is out, [DeAndre Jordan] just got hurt tonight, Wilson [Chandler] is coming back. We’ve got complimentary young guys, as well, that have done a great job the last three years.

“Collectively, I feel like we have great pieces, but it’s pretty glaring we need one more piece or two more pieces that will compliment myself, [Kevin Durant], DJ, GT, Spence [Dinwiddie], Caris [LeVert], and we’ll see how that evolves.”

First of all, before we even delve into anything he said, this is just peak Kyrie. The guy missed almost three months of action and three games into his return is giving long, somewhat inflammatory comments to the press after tough losses. Just terrific. 

Anyway, on to what he actually said. As is often the case with the mercurial point guard, he wasn’t wrong necessarily, but he wasn’t exactly helpful either. Obviously the Nets are shorthanded right now, and we’ll have to wait until Durant returns to see this team at its full potential. But even when he gets back, it seems reasonable that they’ll need another piece or two to become a top-tier contender. 

At the same time, that’s a year off at least, and a number of players on this team might have to be moved in order to make that happen. Everyone realizes the facts in the back of their minds, but it doesn’t help the vibe of the team to start bringing it up in the middle of January, and especially not right after you shoot 6-of-21 from the field and finish minus-29 in an 11-point loss. 

It also didn’t help that Irving didn’t mention Jarrett Allen, the team’s promising young center, at the end of his quote. We can probably just chalk that one up to forgetfulness in the moment, but still, not great. 

Now, all that being said, this comment isn’t really that big of a deal. He didn’t bash anyone, or say anything outrageous. What it is, however, is one of the Nets’ first real glimpses of the entire Kyrie Experience.





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Kyrie Irving Is Back, as if He Never Left

But for now, Irving is disregarding those concerns.

“Every time someone asks about chemistry, you’ve got to have reps. You have to be out there together. But I think something that doesn’t really get mentioned a lot is that when you’re a great basketball player or a great basketball mind, you’re able to play with anyone out there on the floor,” Irving said.

Instead, Irving is giving this strange Nets season another go. That’s a strong signal of commitment to his teammates, the front office and the paying fans. (And the sighs of relief aren’t just from Brooklyn. The last thing the league office needs is for star power to remain sidelined.) Let’s not forget that Irving was an absolute force in the 11 games he played this season before the injury. He was averaging 28.5 points, 7.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds — all on pace for career highs. On opening night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, with chants of “Kyrie’s home!” flying around the rafters, Irving dropped a 50 point masterpiece. It was a clear reminder of the fact that when Irving is engaged, he is easily one of the best players in the world.

“Obviously, we play hard, but we want to be a championship level organization,” Irving said after the game. “We want to do that for the next few years, competing. When I’m done playing basketball, this culture here will still be consistent. That’s what I’m after. That’s a long-term goal. But obviously it starts with being here for the guys.”

The Nets could certainly use Irving’s presence on the court, although strangely, they were only 4-7 in the games he played before the shoulder caused pain. In his absence, the Nets were 13-13. At one point, the team was 9-3 without him, riding the backs of Dinwiddie and an improved Jarrett Allen. But the league caught up with a franchise without Irving and LeVert. Near the end of December, the Nets fell into a seven-game losing streak, stopped by a rousing win on Friday against a strong Miami Heat team.

The team was able to remain competitive because of their defense, ranking fifth in the N.B.A. during the span of games Irving missed. Where the Nets really missed Irving was as a playmaker in particular. While Irving rehabbed, the Nets were one of the worst scoring teams in the league, ranking 28th in offensive efficiency. With Irving, the Nets were 12th. That’s how much difference one All-N.B.A. level scorer can make, as Allen noted.

“If you see Kyrie going to the basket, you need about four people to stop him from scoring it,” Allen said.

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All-Star guard Kyrie Irving goes 10-for-11 from the field, helps lead Nets to blowout win in first game back


After missing 26 games with a right shoulder injury, Nets star guard Kyrie Irving was back in the starting lineup for Brooklyn when they hosted the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night, and despite the long layoff Irving looked a lot like his usual self as he helped the Nets secure a 108-86 victory. The All-Star guard dropped 21 points against the Hawks while missing just one shot from the field (10-of-11). He also added 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. Irving played just 20 minutes in the game, but that was mainly the result of the fact that the Nets held a commanding lead for the vast majority of the contest and not any conditioning issue, as Irving looked like he could have played more after nearly two months on the sideline.  

“I really missed the game of basketball,” Irving said after the game. “I’m grateful to be out here. I worked extremely hard to get back. We got a long season ahead of us, a lot more goals to accomplish, and it started tonight. … I love the game man, I missed it so much.” 

Irving had been progressing toward a return for quite some time, as he began playing 2-on-2 a couple of weeks ago, and participated in a full practice, including 5-on-5 contract drills, on Thursday. The Nets played .500 basketball (13-13) in his absence. Surgery was on the table for Irving, but he opted instead for a cortisone shot so that he could return to the court quicker, though he did seriously consider having the procedure done. 

“Yeah, it definitely crossed my mind,” Irving said of surgery last week, via NBA.com.  “I wouldn’t be honest with you if I didn’t tell you that, but I felt that the next step in the progression is to get the cortisone and see how it responds and then move on from that point… You either continue to get cortisone shots, which is obviously detrimental to your health in your muscles, or you go get arthroscopic surgery. For me, it’s just about being able to go back out there after the right amount of rehab, the right amount of rest, recovery, and see what we can do for the rest of the season and then reevaluate after a few months.” 

The Nets are obviously happy to have Irving back out on the floor considering the fact that he is one of the most dynamic guards in the entire league, and that they made a major investment in him over the offseason. The Nets currently sit eighth in a surprisingly crowded Eastern Conference playoff picture, and with Irving back they will try to climb up the standings. 

Irving’s return does create an interesting dilemma for Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, though. Spencer Dinwiddie had been playing some All-Star-caliber ball while starting at the point position in Irving’s absence. On the season he’s averaging 22.5 points, 6.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game — numbers that represent career-highs for the sixth-year guard, and his play has been a big reason that the Nets have been able to stay in the playoff picture. Now that Irving is back, does Atkinson move Dinwiddie back to a reserve role, or does he start Irving and Dinwiddie together in Brooklyn’s backcourt and make adjustments elsewhere? 

Atkinson has certainly considered his options, but he hasn’t committed to any specific rotations yet. Instead, it’s likely that Brooklyn’s rotation will be fluid for a while, as Atkinson tinkers to see which combinations of players work best together. On Sunday night, he started Irving and Dinwiddie together while bumping Caris LeVert down to the bench. 

“That’d be a tough tandem to match up with,” Atkinson said of playing Irving and Dinwiddie together last week. “And Spencer can obviously guard off the ball easy — he’s 6’6″ — so that’s good, too. And Spencer’s a two-way player. It’s exciting to think what it could be. You could have Caris, Kyrie and Spencer. You know, that was kind of obviously in the original plans. You could play them as a finishing lineup. I wouldn’t hesitate to do that at all. My job at the end of the day is to do the best for the team, what’s going to fit best for the team concept.” 

No matter what Atkinson does, Dinwiddie’s usage and opportunities are going to drop, as Irving excels with the ball in his hands, and he will have it, a lot (Dinwiddie scored just seven points on seven shots on Sunday night). Overall though, the Nets’ outlook is obviously improved, as teams will now have to account for two dynamic guards when they play them. Brooklyn won’t reach its full potential as a team until Kevin Durant joins the active roster next season, but Irving’s return should certainly provide them with a big boost for the rest of this season. 





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Kyrie Irving Says He May Need Shoulder Surgery

Nets guard Kyrie Irving, addressing the media for the first time in two months, said on Saturday that he had taken a cortisone shot in an attempt to avoid surgery on an ailing shoulder that has kept him out of games since Nov. 14. He did not give a concrete timetable for his return but said that he was “doing a lot better.”

“It just sucks, man,” Irving said. “It really is disheartening.”

The 27-year-old point guard, who has missed the Nets’ last 23 games including Saturday’s, said that he has felt pain when lifting his right shoulder during jump shots and that he had also been dealing with bursitis, a condition that causes joint pain. Irving said he began feeling pain in his right shoulder after a Nov. 4 game against the New Orleans Pelicans, in which he scored 39 points. The pain became progressively worse afterward. If the cortisone shot does not work, Irving raised the possibility of arthroscopic surgery.

“It’s very unique,” Irving said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever had such a significant feeling in my shoulder where I’m going up to shoot jump shots and I can’t really lift my shoulder.”

Irving, one of the Nets’ marquee free-agent acquisitions over the summer, has played only 11 games for the Nets this season, but he had been dominant. He was averaging 28.5 points and 7.2 assists, both on pace for career highs. Speculation that Irving’s injury was more serious than initially thought had been rising for weeks, especially since the team has not provided many details about it.

But the team has held on in Irving’s absence, winning 12 of 22 games heading into Saturday night’s matchup with the Toronto Raptors. Joining the Nets for the first time since Nov. 10 was Caris LeVert, the talented young swingman who went down with a thumb injury around the same time as Irving. The Nets entered Saturday’s game against the Raptors seventh in the Eastern Conference. Kevin Durant, Irving’s close friend who came to the team from the Golden State Warriors in the off-season, is expected to miss the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon.

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Kyrie Irving Provides Updates On Shoulder Injury


The shoulder injury that first plagued Kyrie Irving in the beginning of November has persisted much longer than anticipated and may eventually require surgery to repair.

Irving spoke with the media for the first time since he took to the sidelines nearly two months ago and detailed the cortisone shot he recently received in an effort to facilitate his recovery.

Irving’s compromised shooting arm has nagged the All-Star for months and he still feels pain in his shoulder when putting up jump shots.

The cortisone shot could potentially get him back on the court sooner but it’s a short-term fix. The guard intends to try to live off of the shot but isn’t opposed to surgery in the future if required.

Irving mentions that he’ll re-evaluate the need for arthroscopic surgery in the coming weeks and months. If he does end up going under the knife then the recovery process for such a procedure could last as long as three-to-four months.





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