Since joining forces with the Brooklyn Nets this past offseason, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant haven't been able to show what they're really capable of this season with each both dealing with injuries. It was expected for Durant to miss the entire season due to a torn Achilles tendon, but Irving has had some serious injury problems of his own.
Irving missed 26 games earlier in the season due to a shoulder injury, but returned to action in mid-January. He played in nine games and put together some magical performances, including a 54-point effort in a win over the Chicago Bulls. However, the pain in his shoulder led to the decision of having arthroscopic surgery to fix it, which would end his season. On Tuesday, the team announced that Irving underwent successful surgery to "relieve a right shoulder impingement."
The surgery will hopefully fix the shoulder issues Irving's been experiencing throughout this season, because according to Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson, the pain in his shoulder isn't the result of one single play or moment but rather something that's been continuously bothering him over time, via ESPN.
"The shoulder is a tough thing," Atkinson said. "I just think it was an on and off thing where it's bothering you. Some days you feel good, some days you don't feel good. But I think it got to the point it was, 'Hey let's see another specialist.'"
For Brooklyn, this was always going to be a bit of a lost season considering Durant's injury. Even so, Irving's injury is worrisome in the long term. He has a history of injuries throughout his career, and since being traded from the Cavaliers, has not reached 70 games in a single season. If that trend continues to persist when Durant is back next season and beyond, it could cause some trouble for the franchise if the point guard they signed to a four-year, $141 million contract can't stay healthy.
In the short term, without Irving for the remainder of this season, the Nets, currently ranked eighth in the East, have absolutely no chance in the first round. They're probably going to lose to the Milwaukee Bucks or whoever gets the No. 2 seed, and those games might not even be worth watching without Irving on the floor.
Beyond that, it's just a bummer and further dampens the mood surrounding this grand plan in Brooklyn. The Nets will likely walk away from this season with nothing to show for it with this new duo, and now both of their stars may have injury question marks heading into next season. In the end, however, when the decision was made for Irving's season-ending surgery, Nets GM Sean Marks told reporters that, "our goal is long term health here." Playing it safe was the right call in a season already lost.