Nets point guard Kyrie Irving remains on the shelf, but head coach Kenny Atkinson refuted a report claiming that Irving is suffering from thoracic bursitis, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes.
“Whatever that report said is not true,” Atkinson said. “We’re still in the same place the last time I talked. Like I said, the thing is we haven’t gotten to the contact with him. We’re on-court workout situation but the contact just hasn’t been cleared yet. I think that’s the next hurdle. I wish I could tell you when that is. Hopefully sooner rather than later.”
Asked if Irving’s lingering shoulder issue would require surgery, Atkinson said that the team doesn’t believe that’s necessary, adding that the six-time All-Star remains focused on his rehab process.
Although Irving’s return doesn’t appear imminent, today’s update on fellow injured guard Caris LeVert was more positive. According to Malika Andrews of ESPN, LeVert told reporters that he was able to go through 5-on-5 work on Tuesday and again on Thursday.
Atkinson was unwilling to commit to getting LeVert back in the lineup during the Nets’ upcoming road trip to Houston (Dec. 28), Minnesota (Dec. 30), and Dallas (Jan. 2), but also didn’t rule out the possibility of LeVert playing in one or more of those games, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post.
“Of course you want to push me. I’m afraid I’m going to say yes and then it doesn’t happen, so I’m not going to go there,” Atkinson said, explaining why he wouldn’t commit to a specific date. “I’d just say, he’s getting really close.”
With LeVert expected to return before Irving does, Atkinson also left the door open for LeVert to play a backup point guard role when he’s healthy.
“Yeah, he’s done it before. Completely comfortable with that. And yes that’s something we’ll think about,” the head coach said. “That’s something we’re going to need, and he’s really good at it, so that’s going to help us when he comes back.”
Brooklyn has been hit hard by injuries as of late and could badly use some reinforcements after tonight’s 12-point home loss to the Knicks. Spencer Dinwiddie was the only Net to score more than 10 points in that game.