Surprise! Not long after beat writers were allowed into the HSS Training Center Thursday, the tweets started flying...
#Nets Irving said he was able to practice today, WITH contact.— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) January 9, 2020
He played in 4-on-4 & 5-on-5 with no limitations outside of his shoulder rehabilitation. Irving hopes to get a few more practices in before reevaluating in a week or so.
Side note, he was in a really good mood.
Kyrie Irving was able to practice today. Contact included. Is trying to get a few more practices in before reevaluating. Said he played in four-on-four and five-on-five. No limitations outside of shoulder rehabilitation.— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) January 9, 2020
#KyrieIrving just spoke to #Nets media about rejoining full-contact practice with team. Had been working with coaches & “extra work” group but now looking at return, expects re-evaluation in one week. He was very upbeat.— Greg Logan (@GregLogan1) January 9, 2020
Kenny Atkinson said that Irving was able to fully participate in practice today. Atkinson said it was good timing, as the Nets need a morale boost.— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) January 9, 2020
Here’s what he specifically told the media...
“We just see where we end up in the next few days,” Irving said. “Realistically, we will re-evaluate tomorrow. See how I feel tomorrow. Then go Saturday -- probably another practice.”
Irving said he has a self-imposed deadline.
”Hopefully I get some game reps in addition to practice probably in the next week or so, it could be less than that but I’ll give myself a week.”
He also reiterated what his goal is.
“This is my priority, my goal is to win a NBA championship here being in Brooklyn. And in order to do that, we got to raise our level in this organization and create a culture that’s at that top level. When you’re pushing to be the best you have to make sacrifices and you’ve got to do some things around here to push the guys and I know they’re going to do the same for me.”
As to specifics about how his game would be affected, Irving told reporters this.
“It’s my shooting shoulder, so me going right primarily on my drives, I’ve got to mix it up a little bit and just work on my floaters, work on my touch around the rim, but that will come over time.”
He also noted that he had been working with coaches and performance team staff starting a week and a half ago. He began to do 2-on-2 work with coaches and has slowly ramped up his workload to participating in a full practice ... with contact.
And here’s his full comments...
In a bit of irony, the news came just before the NBA released its latest All-Star voting by fans. Irving continues in second place among Eastern Conference guards. Irving said he’d vote for himself.
It’s also four days since Irving told media that season-ending surgery was possible —but noted as well that he was in “a better place” than he had been. Irving hasn’t played since November 14, a span of 25 missed games, the longest stretch in an injury-laced career.
Irving told the media he has no limitations, “other than just keeping my shoulder maintenance program going before I get on the floor. That’s the thing I have to keep consistent throughout the season and probably for the rest of my career.”
The Nets could use Irving. They’re on a seven-game losing streak and face a tough schedule.
Meanwhile, what about Kevin Durant?
#KevinDurant was on court doing individual drill today at #Nets practice. Kenny Atkinson has discussed how to run offense with Kyrie and KD and how it might look in 2 months. I asked if KD might return this year. He said organization still operating as if he's out for year...— Greg Logan (@GregLogan1) January 9, 2020
Kenny Atkinson asked about Kevin Durant playing in next few months and shoots it down. “I don’t think there’s been any thought there.”— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) January 9, 2020
That may have been a bigger surprise than Irving’s return to practice. The Nets had been remarkably close-mouthed about KD’s rehab. Did the Nets issues —a seven-game losing streak and broad-based criticism of their lack of transparency— force their hand?
Here’s Atkinson’s full statement...
“I would love to give you... I know, I’ll talk to Aaron (Harris, Nets spokesman), maybe we can give you more information on that that. I will say he’s progressing fantastically. I would just say that. Talking to him, talking to the performance team, came in and watched him yesterday do his exercises. You guys can probably see he’s moving a lot better, moving a lot more. I don’t want to get ahead of myself and get people mad at me for giving you more than that.”
Atkinson also said with Caris LeVert getting more minutes and Irving now looking like he’s moving forward, the and the coaching staff will have to start thinking of how to integrate them and Spencer Dinwiddie.
“I think it almost has to be one of those things where, when the situation is presented to us, we have to make the decision what it is. But we are preparing for that. It’s just a ton of variables.”
Considering where they’ve come from, that’s a good problem to have.
- Nets’ Kyrie Irving has hopes set on return within a week - Malika Andrews - ESPN
- Kyrie Irving’s chance at Nets return just got more real - Mollie Walker - New York Post
- Kyrie Irving practices in full with Nets and now hopes to be cleared for return to action soon - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Kyrie Irving could be only a week away from returning to Nets - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets’ Kevin Durant takes to practice court, but not with a basketball - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets’ Kyrie Irving hopes to return to court as early as next week - Colin Martin - SNY
- Kyrie Irving returns to Nets practice and will have his shoulder reevaluated next week - Ben Rohrbach - Yahoo! Sports
- Kyrie Irving practices with Nets, including with contact - Dan Feldman - NBC Sports