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Kyrie Irving injury mystery deepens, now called ‘thoracic bursitis,’ ... but how new is that?

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Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson, writing for Heavy.com, reports that Kyrie Irving’s condition is now being called “thoracic bursitis” and that it will likely cause him to miss another two to three weeks.

But is this just a change in terminology —from shoulder impingement to thoracic bursitis— rather than a change in diagnosis?

Robinson quotes “a source within the Nets organization” as providing him with the news.

On Monday evening during Irving’s ‘Nike Kyrie Irving Invitational Tournament’ at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, a source within the Nets organization stated that Irving could be out two to three more weeks with what they are privately calling thoracic bursitis.

However, according to medical texts, “shoulder impingement” and “thoracic bursitis” are basically the same thing. Shoulder impingement may be more general, thoracic bursitis more specific but the course of action is basically the same. The Nets, of course, don’t comment on specifics of player injuries, including how long players will be out.

A physiotherapist contacted by NetsDaily said that thoracic bursitis — also called scapulothoracic bursitis (to further confuse things)— affects the bursa sacs under shoulder blades. Bursa sacs are closed fluid-filled sacs and are found throughout the body. Their essential function is to provide a lubricant between tissue and bone. The condition, said the therapist, is rare and not easy to diagnose. Key to treating it, he added, is plenty of rest along with anti-inflammatories and physical therapy (which is the same treatment recommended for shoulder impingement). There is no surgical solution.

The condition, the therapist noted, can be caused by physical trauma, overuse or both.

Irving suffered the injury on November 12 in Utah, then first being declared questionable, surprisingly played two days later in Denver. Atkinson admitted Irving aggravated the injury against the Nuggets, and the guard hasn’t played or practiced full-contact in the six weeks since. Nor has he spoken publicly about the injury.

Since he’s been down, the Nets have gone 12-6 with Spencer Dinwiddie averaging 26.8 points and seven assists. The injury came two days after Caris LeVert required surgery on his thumb ligaments.

“We’re getting second and third opinions before doing anything,” the source told Robinson. Irving is “taking his time and trying to get it right” and that Irving’s “health is the most important thing.”

Should Irving be out another two to three weeks, it could affect the Nets application for a hardship exception which would permit them to temporarily add a 16th player to the roster.

Specifically, the hardship provision allows a team to apply for another roster spot if it has at least four players who have missed three or more consecutive games ... and who will remain sidelined for two weeks beyond the date of the application.

The Nets are currently down five players. Kevin Durant and David Nwaba are expected to miss the rest of the season. That would mean Brooklyn would have to certify that two of their remaining three injured players — Irving, LeVert and Nic Claxton (hamstring) — won’t return for another two weeks. After LeVert joined the Nets contact drills Monday, it would appear he’ll be back sooner than that. The Nets have given no indication how long Claxton will be out.

Should the Nets be granted a hardship exception, the Nets will have to get back down to 15 players once one of the four players return to action.

Meanwhile, the NBA approved a disabled player exception for Nwaba. The rarely used DPE simply permits a team salary cap space. However, as Bobby Marks has noted, the Nwaba DPE is only worth $839,427 which is below the prorated minimum for a player. Unlike the hardship exception, a DPE does not permit a team to sign an additional player.