PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving will have arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder and miss the rest of the season.
The Nets made the announcement Thursday before playing the Philadelphia 76ers in their first game after the All-Star break.
Coach Kenny Atkinson said the point guard was still having trouble with the shoulder that sidelined him for 26 games earlier this season.
“Some days it was OK and other days it bothered him,” Atkinson said. “Obviously, it is difficult to perform under those circumstances.”
Irving said pain in the shoulder initially worsened after a game on Nov. 4. The Nets then went on a five-game road trip, where Irving continued to play until the pain got so bad he was having trouble lifting his shoulder.
He got a cortisone shot on Dec. 24 and was able to return on Jan. 12, but he acknowledged that surgery might still be necessary. By deciding to have surgery now, Irving’s first season in Brooklyn ends after just 20 games.
Irving averaged 27.4 points, with a 50-point game on opening night and a 54-point performance against Chicago on Jan. 31. He played only one more game after that.
Atkinson said Irving was even better than he expected after watching him play in Cleveland and Boston.
“I really love the player and feel like we had a really good relationship. We are in a really good place, but obviously you want more. More reps, more time with him,” Atkinson said. “But we’ll have time in the offseason to connect and work with him a little bit.”
Irving missed the last five games before the break with a sprained right knee. He now joins Kevin Durant on the sideline; the superstars signed with the Nets together in July. Durant has been out all season while recovering from surgery to repair his Achilles tendon.
Brooklyn is still in good position to make the playoffs, coming out of the break in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and five games ahead of ninth-place Washington. The Nets have received strong guard play from Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert.