Kyrie Irving finally spoke to the press on Saturday, and the Nets star painted a translucent but far from rosy picture of his shoulder bursitis.
Irving said his shoulder strain felt better, but he didn't offer a schedule for his return to court. And after saying he recently collapsed and got a cortisone shot in the painful shoulder, he admitted that arthroscopic surgery could be a definite option.
Irving spoke to the press on Saturday before the Nets' game against the Raptors, his first public commentary since his last game in Denver on November 14. He said the cortisone shot he got on Christmas Eve because of his bursitis should get him on the pitch faster, but that's a short-term solution.
"I'm in a better place now because it's a significant time," said Irving. "I tried to avoid anti-inflammatories, which is why it took so long.
"Now I am in a place where the next step was either a cortisone injection or surgery. That was the ultimatum I was faced with. Now I just do everything I can to make a living from this cortisone and get on with it if I need to be operated on in the future. "
Irving was treated with a shoulder injury after losing the Nets in Utah on November 12, and after The Post reported that the injury could be long lasting and take several weeks off, he played in Denver two days later. He has not played since then and has not yet been released for contact.
The injury, Irving admitted, initially affected him before this distance – during a victory over the pelicans on November 4.
Surgery may be an option if the cortisone wears off quickly. And even if the shot takes a while, off-season surgery is possible.
"The next progression was a cortisone shot or arthroscopic surgery," said Irving. “The cortisone shot lasts as long as it can. Either you continue to receive cortisone shots that are obviously detrimental to your health in your muscles, or you have an arthroscopic surgery.
"For me, it's all about going back there after the right amount of rehab, the right amount of rest and relaxation, seeing what we can do for the rest of the season, and reassessing it after a few months."
Irving held back to get the shot as long as he could. He even visited a shoulder specialist in Phoenix and admitted that since the problem was going to last longer than he hoped and Kevin Durant was already out of the season, he had been considering an operation that could have ended his season.
"Yes, that definitely came to my mind. I wouldn't be honest with you if I didn't tell you," said Irving. “But I felt that the next step in development was to get the cortisone and see how it reacted, and then go on from there. In about two months, you should check to see if the disease continues for a month or if it starts to hurt in the next two weeks.
"So I'm going to continue the rehab process and try to get out of there with the boys. It definitely occurred to me to just get the surgery, it would probably take me three or four months or whatever, two or three doctors say, you'll dissect what I'm saying anyway.
"I was just thinking about the current moment and what we have. The overall goal is to stay healthy and get better with these guys. After this season, we will make progress when we achieve the goals we set. "
The goals will be much more difficult to achieve if Irving doesn't return.
Irving's condition is not an impact injury, but a problem of wear. He admitted that he was working overtime to make up for lost ground due to lack of work in the training camp (he suffered a broken face that scared him back). As a result, he may have worked himself into the impact.
"I know that you get it more than once or twice, you put yourself at risk. I will make the best decision for my health," said Irving. "I want to go out and play, so just keep going to rehab and live with the results if I go out and really try it. See where we end up and move forward after the season."