Kyrie Irving's injury has kept the star point guard out for the Nets' past 10 games, including Wednesday's 130-118 win over the Hawks at State Farm Arena, and the absence could extend "a few more weeks."
Irving, who has been sidelined with a right shoulder impingement since starting Nov. 14's 101-93 loss to the Denver Nuggets, would be "lucky" if he could return several weeks from now, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
Head coach Kenny Atkinson addressed Irving's injury before the team's leading scorer and facilitator missed his third straight game Nov. 20, when he sat for the Nets' 101-91 win over the Charlotte Hornets.
"I don't think it's a long-term thing, but I wouldn't say we're being overcautious," Atkinson said. "I think he has a situation that's prevented him from playing. And like I said before, this is kind of like a collaborative thing -- we've talked about it, but this is the best course of action. Do I think it's like a long-term thing? Like I said, no. I don't think he could play through it right now, quite honestly. That's where we are. And we'll see where that goes. I know he's working on it with our performance team, working to get well."
Atkinson updated Irving's status Nov. 22, noting that the Nets had no timetable for the point guard's return.
"There's no update, no timetable," Atkinson said. "I think he's concerned about one thing: getting back to being as close to 100 percent as possible, and that's as simple as that."
Irving is the Nets' offensive catalyst with 28.5 points, 7.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds in 33.8 minutes on average through 11 games. He had 27 points on 10-of-30 shooting (2 for 12 on three-pointers) in Nov. 12's 119-114 road loss to the Utah Jazz, where Atkinson said Irving suffered his injury.
In Irving's place, backup point guard and noted sixth man Spencer Dinwiddie has stepped up. The Nets (11-10) are 7-3 without Irving, with Dinwiddie averaging 24.9 points per game, including 24 on 10-of-22 shooting and a team-high five assists in the 12-point victory against the Hawks (5-17).
"The role is completely different so obviously, there is a change there," Dinwiddie said after last Friday's 112-107 win over the Celtics. "My approach to the game is very similar either way. It's whatever the team needs to win and then the role kind of dictates what that is. Sometimes it will be defense, sometimes it will be offense."