Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is uncertain when exactly star guard Kyrie Irving can return to action from surgery.
The 2016 NBA champion has been on the sidelines since March 11 due to a sore knee with Stevens revealing last week that he would be seeking outside counsel after failing to return to action on time.
According to the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett, the second opinion on the knee was set for Thursday with Irving later undergoing surgery on Saturday to remove a tension wire in his left knee, originally inserted after surgery on the same knee during the 2015 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
“Celtics guard Kyrie Irving today underwent a minimally-invasive procedure to remove a tension wire in his left knee,” a Celtics statement via NBA.com read. “The wire was originally placed as part of the surgical repair of a fractured patella sustained during the 2015 NBA Finals.”
“While removal of the wire should relieve irritation it was causing in Irving’s patellar tendon, the fractured patella has fully healed and Irving’s knee has been found to be completely structurally sound. Irving is expected to return to basketball activities in 3-6 weeks,” he said.
The timeframe of 3-6 weeks allows Irving to return in time for the NBA playoffs with the Celtics currently comfortable in second place in the Eastern Conference.
However, Stevens is not sure when that will result in an actual return to the court as he cited that there was a difference between a return to basketball activity and a return to basketball.
“We hope [he returns]. Who knows?” Stevens was quoted as saying on the Boston Herald. “Marcus [Smart] was six to eight weeks before basketball activity and Kyrie is three to six before basketball activity. Again, that’s basketball activity. There’s a big difference between that and playing, so we don’t know when we’re going to have those guys back.”
“I’ve texted with him. Left him a message this morning and haven’t heard back. But the timeline will be determined on how he feels and how quickly he can get back out on the court and everything else. There’s still a process after that, too, to be ready to play in a game,” Stevens said.
Irving, who turned 26 on Friday, averages 24.4 points, 5.1 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 60 appearances in the regular season. He is the third Celtics player in recent times to undergo surgery after Daniel Theis (torn meniscus) and Marcus Smart (torn thumb tendon), with the latter hoping to be back in time for the playoffs.
In other injury news, Jaylen Brown returned from a concussion due to a fall in the Celtics’ 104-93 win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night at the TD Garden. Forward Gordon Hayward has not featured since opening night after fracturing his ankle and undergoing surgery, but was hopeful earlier this month of returning in time for the NBA playoffs.
“The hope is still there,” Hayward said on March 9. “It’s something where I’m really honestly not even thinking about it. I know we’re getting toward the end of the year. It’s something that I’m still working toward, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.”