On Tuesday, reports came out that Nets guard Kyrie Irving could be out another two to three weeks due to his shoulder injury, but head coach Kenny Atkinson said on Thursday that's not the case.
The original report stated that the Nets are now referring to the injury internally as a "thoracic bursitis," though a "shoulder impingement" was the initial diagnosis given by the team.
"I don't want to comment on a report because what you're telling me - whatever that report said is not true. We're still in the same place the last time I talked," Atkinson said before Thursday's game against the Knicks. "Like I said, the thing is we haven't gotten to the contact with him. We're on-court workout situation but the contact just hasn't been cleared yet. I think that's the next hurdle. I wish I could tell you when that is. Hopefully sooner rather than later."
Atkinson was also asked about whether or not Irving, who has missed the team's last 18 games, is potentially heading towards surgery.
"I don't think we're there," Atkinson said. "I think we're still in the rehab process. I don't think we're there."
When Irving was first sidelined following the loss to Denver on November 14, Atkinson initially stated that Irving would be cleared for contact within a week or two, and he admitted on Thursday that the injury has lingered much longer than he had anticipated.
"From my personal opinion, yes," Atkinson said when asked if he though Irving would have returned sooner. "I'd have to go in there and get a deeper report. But I do think these shoulders can be tricky, man. "That's where I am. I think we've all been there. I've had one. It's just tricky and you need it to feel right. So, I kind of understand what's happened here. Like I said, I'm really hoping he's back sooner than later."
Atkinson also said Irving has been able to maintain his stamina during this recovery process.
In his first season with the Nets, Irving has averaged 28.5 points, 7.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Without the six-time All-Star in the lineup, the Nets have benefited from Spencer Dinwiddie's improved play, who has scored 80 combined points in the Nets' last two games, and has averaged 26.1 points and 7.2 assists per game in the 18 games without Irving.
LeVert nearing a return
While Irving is no closer to making his return, the Nets could soon be getting back a different key contributor. Guard Caris LeVert, who has been out since Nov. 10 after having thumb surgery, took a lot of contact during a Nets workout on Thursday, and based on an assessment from the team's performance staff, the belief is his return to action is imminent.
In just 9 games this season, LeVert has averaged a career-best 16.8 points per game while shooting a career-best 36.1 percent from beyond the arc.