Celtics guard Kyrie Irving will miss the remainder of the regular season and the 2018 playoffs while recovering from left knee surgery, the team announced Thursday. The news that Irving won’t be coming back is a major blow to the second-place Celtics’ chances of making it through the Eastern Conference.
Irving, who was acquired over the summer in a trade with the Cavaliers, needs to undergo another procedure to remove two screws implanted in his knee. According to the team, the knee is structurally sound but Irving developed a bacterial infection after March surgery to “remove a tension wire that had been implanted at the same time as the screws.”
The recovery phase for the next procedure is being set at 4-5 months, which should have Irving ready for the start of the 2018-19 season.
Irving had been expected to return at some point after undergoing surgery last month. It was described as a “minimally-invasive procedure” but now will keep out the superstar guard until next season.
The Celtics have been dealt a tough hand this year with Irving joining Gordon Hayward on the sideline. The team still has young swingmen Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, plus veteran big men Al Horford, but losing Irving and Hayward on the perimeter will make them a far easier out come playoff time.
Even with the Cavaliers showing signs of vulnerability after their three straight trips to the NBA Finals, LeBron James makes them a brutal opponent to play. The Raptors will likely be the No. 1 seed, and the 76ers could be dangerous behind all of their young talent.
Irving averaged 24.4 points and 5.1 assists while shooting 49 percent from the field and 41 percent from three in 60 games this season. He was named to the All-Star Game for the fifth time in the past six years.