Regardless of what happens the rest of this year, it’s clear that Kyrie Irving is going to need surgery at some point.
This surgery could take anywhere from six weeks to six months to recover from. Thanks to Dr. Selene Parekh’s appearance on Celtics Beat, we now have a better idea of what Irving’s timeline COULD look like, whenever that surgery does take place (I’m paraphrasing).
Just removing the screws:
This is what every Celtics fan should hope for. Take the screws out, let the bones heal naturally, and resume basketball activities in six to eight weeks.
This is something Irving would deal with for the rest of his career. There are ways to manage it, different injections he can take, minutes restrictions, etc. But this something you can’t get over quickly and could limit his career.
The most complicated diagnosis. If Kyrie is missing cartilage in his knee, then he needs extensive work done. You’re talking a four to six month recovery period after the surgery.
I’ll be honest, I would highly recommend shutting down Irving for the rest of the season, regardless of what the procedure shows you.
I’m already having Isaiah Thomas flashbacks. The Celtics don’t need to ruin another star point guard. And we know that Kyrie works in this system. He went nuclear in February, scoring 25 points per game on 53/45/92 splits. His defensive rating is the best it’s ever been (105 per 100 possessions). This team isn’t complete until Gordon Hayward is back on the floor (and based off Dr. Parekh’s assessment of Hayward’s AlterG progress, it seems he’s not coming back). Why risk another injury?
In the meantime, be prepared to see more of Terry Rozier as a lead-guard, more heavy-usage Jayson Tatum, and more fadeaway jumpers from Marcus Morris. Buckle up.
But what about a longer-range view of the team? If Kyrie can’t go for the rest of the season, then I would expect the Celtics to bow out of the playoffs quickly. And if that’s the case it’s not really too early to start thinking about 2018-19. Could this team go through another roster upheaval? Probably not, but I wouldn’t count it out.
Given what we’ve already seen from GM Danny Ainge (see Thomas, Isaiah) is it really farfetched to start thinking about Kyrie’s future? We already learned that Isaiah playing through his hip injury did not help things. At the very least it cost him a good deal of money.
Do the Celtics still trade for Irving if IT’s injury is handled better? We don’t know. But we do know that Danny is capable of anything. And we know he wouldn’t hesitate to trade Kyrie if he believes he can make the team better. Irving will be in a contract year next season. Does Boston want to pay him a max deal if he can’t return to form? With rumors surrounding Kawhi Leonard’s potential departure, you know Danny will at least look into it. Ainge is the ultimate opportunist. That’s how he operates. I don’t put anything past him.