With Kyrie Irving's long history of injuries – and he's already been sitting far more than in his debut season in Brooklyn – the networks take no risk to his health. Or something natural when he returns.
Irving has missed the last five games with a sprained knee. But even with an extra week off for the All-Star break, the networks won't commit that the Point Guard is ready to play when they resume action in Philadelphia on February 20.
"I think we'll wait until we come back to make this decision. There are many days and I don't want to go out and say something that I would regret later," said coach Kenny Atkinson. "There are obviously many days in between , and we will see. When we get back, these first few exercises will determine where he is. "
Treating Irving with children's gloves is smart. Brooklyn has pledged a four-year deal and he's missed 165 regular season games in his NBA career, including 33 in his debut Nets season. In his first college season at Duke, he suffered a toe injury and played in only 11 of 37 games.
Irving has only won 60 games three times in his nine-year NBA career – an important reason why the Nets have included a bonus for this threshold in his contract – and he will not come close to this number this season.
A facial fracture took a lot of storage Irving. He has already missed 26 games with a shoulder impact, a game on January 20 against the 76ers with hamstring problems and a game against the Knicks six days later that mourns the death of friend Kobe Bryant. Now it's five and counts with the knee.
"He sure itches, man. But in the end we need him to be healthy," said DeAndre Jordan. "We can't make him come out and be 75 percent, 80 percent to ourselves because we also look at things down the line "We cannot sacrifice him for coming out too early and the universe prohibits something from happening. We want him to be ready whenever he comes back."
Jordan, who has been friends with Irving and Kevin Durant since winning the Olympic gold in 2016, preaches patience, as does the nets.
Irving has admitted that he injured his shoulder at the beginning of the season by revising it. And he injured it in New Orleans on November 4 and made it worse by playing four more games over the next 10 days. The result was that he was missing for two months and didn't return until January 12th.
"You have to be mature. You can't be silly to throw someone back," Jordan said. "Because we saw how that couldn't work for a team and more for a player." I feel like we have people who can improve the mentality of the next man. We will hold the fort down until Ky comes back, and so does [Durant], "
There has been a lot of talk about Durant returning after an injury to play the fifth game of last year's NBA final and immediately tear his Achilles tendon. Durant and the nets have insisted that he won't play this season. But Jordan said that was not an excuse to use this as a gap year.
"Yeah, we're not getting out." Oh, KD is not healthy, so we can play like that [garbage] This year. "That would be disrespectful to any other player in this locker room," said Jordan. "That is not what we are about.
"When these guys are well again, they'll help us guide us. But we're really excited about the guys we have here now who are helping us play well this season. That's all you ask for can. "