ATLANTA — The Nets have been about as transparent as a brick wall when it comes to Kyrie Irving’s shoulder injury. But the star’s absence is approaching three weeks, and multiple sources told The Post he could need a few more — if he’s lucky.
Irving missed his 10th straight game Wednesday with what the Nets termed a shoulder impingement. He also has already been ruled out for Friday night’s game in Charlotte.
But two specialists told The Post that Irving is likely to be out a few more weeks, while another source intimated there’s more under the surface and that this injury could be even more long term.
“That’s a very, very broad term,” said Dr. Andrew S. Rokito, chief of shoulder surgery at NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital. “Impingement typically does not refer to an acute injury. [It] refers to more of a long-standing, chronic issue with the rotator cuff.
“He could have a rotator cuff injury which could be just tendinitis and inflammation all the way up to a partial tear. It’s unlikely a full tear. … In terms of time off, I can’t answer that question. It’s certainly conceivable if he really hurt his shoulder with an injury to the rotator cuff he may need few weeks.”
In layman’s terms, Subacromial impingement syndrome is the rotator cuff being compressed against the top of the shoulder blade. It’s a wear-and-tear issue that usually shows up in older athletes, worrisome since Irving is just 27 — and in the first season of a four-year deal.
“The diagnosis of impingement — and I’m not here to refute that in any way — is something someone have long-standing chronic rotator cuff pain, related to rotator cuff issue,” Dr. Rokito said, speaking in general terms about the diagnosis.
“It’s typically not an acute problem. Impingement is a long-standing chronic issue. It’s not a diagnosis one typically associates with an acute injury, and it’s not one typically associated with younger athletes in their 20s; it’s usually older, starting in the 40s, late 30s.”
Irving hasn’t talked to the press since Nov. 14 in Denver, so it’s unclear if he’s had an MRI exam, or a more accurate MRI arthrogram. When Kenny Atkinson was asked if Irving had received an anti-inflammatory shot, he said, “No, I think he’s doing treatment, normal treatment. He’s ramped up his on-court work and the next step is contact.”
Atkinson stopped short of giving a timetable for that, though Dr. Stephen Hunt, of Tri-County Orthopedics in Morristown, N.J., had told The Post earlier that Irving would likely miss “a couple of weeks.”
And Dr. Armin Tehrany, founder of Manhattan Orthopedic Care and honorary surgeon for the NYPD, said Wednesday that Irving could be out for “a couple more weeks.”
Another source who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak about Irving suggested, “I think there’s more to this story. It wouldn’t surprise me if he needs [a procedure] down the road.”
What is certain is that he suffered the injury on Nov. 12 in Utah, then surprisingly played two days later in Denver. Atkinson admitted Irving aggravated the injury against the Nuggets, and the guard hasn’t played or practiced full-contact since.
“This seems appropriate. It’s not alarming to me that he’s still out and getting the rest the team feels that he needs,” Tehrany said. “If it’s just impingement, I’d expect him to be able to start playing in a few weeks. And if he improves great; and if not, I’d get imaging.
“It could be something like a labrum, and if he doesn’t improve in the next few weeks he might need an MRI or MRI arthrogram. That’s where some gadolinium is injected in the shoulder prior to the MRI scan. That increases the accuracy of the imaging to rule out a labrum tear or a rotator cuff.”