Or at least, that’s what the Nets said.
In an unexpected turn of events, Irving not played in over six weeks and counting. He addressed media members prior to their game against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday evening at Barclays Center to provide an update on his status.
“I got to that Pelicans game [on November 4], I had one wrong, kind of, contest on a shot,” he said regarding the root of the pain. “I think somebody came and blocked it. That Denver game [on November 14] is the last game I played, and after that it just progressively gotten worse.
“I’m in a better place now,” he added. “I tried to go without any anti-inflammatories, which is why it took so long.”
Irving has only played 11 of the Nets 33 games this season, the first of a four-year agreement between the two that is schedule to pay Irving $137 million through 2023.
Brooklyn dropped their fifth straight loss that night against the Raptors, putting them at 16-18 for the season, with no sign of an Irving return and the likelihood of Kevin Durant continuing his torn achilles rehab through the entire 2019-20 season.
Irving did insist that he is in a better place now, despite the lingering injury.
“The next step in any progression was to either get a cortisone shot or to get surgery, that was the ultimatum I was fixed with,” he said. “Now, I'm just doing the best I can to live off this cortisone and move forward if I need surgery in the future.
“You either continue to get cortisone shots, which is obviously detrimental to your health and your muscles, or you go get arthroscopic surgery,” he added. “For me, it's just about being able to go back out there after the right amount of rehab, the right amount of rest and recovery, and see what we can do for the rest of the season and then reevaluate after a few months.”
Since being the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Irving has missed 155 regular season games and counting, or over 20 percent of possible games played during the non-playoff portion of his career.
Irving has also missed 26 of 87 playoff games, including the Boston Celtics’ memorable run in the 2017-18 playoffs, which saw them push the Cleveland Cavaliers to game seven of the conference finals.
The Nets, up until recently, had enjoyed a level of success without their star point guard. At one point the team was 12-6 since Irving’s injury, but are now on a five-game skid.
“It really is disheartening when you know you’re working your tail off,” Irving said. “I’m seeing all these shoulder specialists for two weeks, I’m doing all these exercises, still nothing is happening to get me back on the court.”