Danny Ainge cooled some lingering concerns Thursday while discussing Kyrie Irving’s knee injury.
Irving underwent a “minimally-invasive procedure” on his left knee last week, and it’s unclear when the Boston Celtics point guard will return to action. But Ainge doesn’t view the injury as a long-term problem. It’s just something Irving and the organization will need to manage moving forward, according to the Celtics president of basketball operations.
“I’m not concerned at all,” Ainge said Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich,” per MassLive.com. “I’m just saying, like, his knee is very structurally sound. It’s not, like, a long-term thing. There could still be some challenges. We tried to do a minimal amount of surgery at this moment and it might require some more. But we don’t know any of that. I’m just guessing. I don’t know. I’ll probably have a much better update on how he’s doing when I return. I’m with the team right now and I’ll see him (Friday).”
All told, the thought of Irving undergoing another procedure down the road is a little troubling, as he figures to be a franchise cornerstone for the foreseeable future. But the Celtics knew what they were getting into when they traded for Irving, who originally fractured his kneecap in the 2015 NBA Finals, and Ainge insists there was no reason to consider surgery earlier this season.
“Doing it sooner, there was no reason to,” Ainge said Thursday, per MassLive.com. “He wasn’t experiencing any discomfort, I think over the last year, which, you know, he played 100 games last year including the playoffs, and this year, he had just the same type of soreness periodically, but nothing that would prevent him from playing. So there was no reason to have that discussion.”
Ultimately, of course, the conversation was had and Irving went under the knife. Now, it looks like he could be sidelined into the playoffs — the Celtics announced Saturday he’s expected to return to basketball activities in three to six weeks — although Ainge was unable to provide a definitive update on the 26-year-old’s timetable.
“I honestly don’t know with Kyrie,” Ainge said. “We’re just sort of waiting for the surgery to heal. And he hasn’t really done anything yet so I don’t really have an answer for you. He hasn’t played basketball for I don’t know five weeks now — four, five weeks by the time his knee’s healed. It has a tendency to atrophy in that situation. So we just want to be careful that we’re not jumping the gun or putting extra pressure on Kyrie to return when our team needs him. We just want to be sure he’s healthy.”
Irving, who hasn’t played since March 11, is averaging 24.4 points, 5.1 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game this season, his first with the Celtics after six seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports
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