Celtics

Robb: Irving surgery hurts short term, but hidden blessing for 2019 chances

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(Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

One of the biggest question marks about Kyrie Irving as a player has always been his health. Irving has struggled with staying on his court dating back to his time at Duke (he saw the floor for just 11 games during his only season in Durham). The five-time All-Star has played 60 games or less in three of his six NBA seasons in Cleveland, which included various injuries to his knee, finger, toe, wrist, and shoulder. A fractured left kneecap ended his 2015 NBA Finals early as the Cavs eventually fell to the Warriors in six games.

His first season in Boston officially came to a close on Thursday after the team announced he would undergo season-ending surgery to remove screws in that same left kneecap to address a bacterial infection that had formed. He is expected to make a recovery in four-to-five months, which would put him on schedule to be healthy for the start of the 2018-19 regular season.

On the surface, the timing for the Irving surgery seems pretty brutal for Boston. The playoffs are a week away and the C’s had a puncher’s chance of getting out of the East with a healthy Irving in the fold. Without him, they will be lucky to get out of the second round thanks to the laundry list of injuries they are dealing with.

However, a closer look at the situation and comments from Danny Ainge indicate Irving’s knee maintenance issue was a ticking time bomb, which was set to go off at any point during the next couple years. That fact in itself makes the timing of Irving’s pending surgery good news from a big picture perspective for the team.

Consider all the pieces of the puzzle when you look at Irving’s situation: