The good news for the Cleveland Cavaliers is that Kyrie Irving’s knee isn’t injured.
The bad news is that his shoulder is now hurt, and he will be out for the next three to four weeks. And with only six weeks left in the regular season, Irving obviously won’t play much, if at all, for the rest of the season.
The Cavaliers announced on Monday that Irving injured his shoulder in Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors. He has now been diagnosed with a Left AC (acromioclavicular) sprain and will now rest his shoulder and receive treatment for it.
The loss is obviously huge for the Cavaliers for this season, but in the big picture it may be a good thing.
First of all, Irving has been fighting injuries all season and recently had been having knee problems. If he is out for three to four weeks, or for the rest of the season now with the shoulder issue, it will give his knee time to heal and the rest of his body time to get stronger.
The future success of the Cavaliers basically depends on Irving staying healthy, and if he is rested now for a few weeks and then into the off-season, hopefully that will make him stronger for next year.
Irving has gotten a great deal of experience in his first two years in the league and has already proven that he is a star. He still can improve as a player, but he has had a great season and the best thing for him now is to get healthy.
The Cavaliers may not win as many games with Irving out of the lineup, but that may not be such a bad thing either. The Cavaliers are building primarily through the draft, and a worse record just gives them a better shot at getting a higher draft pick. I know that the organization wants to win as many games as possible this season and that the players want to win as many games as possible, but a higher draft pick should just help the team win more games next year and in future years.
Irving’s absence in the lineup will also force other players to step up more in the fourth quarter and other times of the game. Irving is spectacular in the fourth quarter and has single-handedly won several games for the Cavaliers this season with his play in the final minutes.
With Irving out, the pressure of scoring in big moments will fall on other players such as rookie guard Dion Waiters, and it will be good for them to get that experience. Waiters is quietly having a very good rookie season, and he may put up some big numbers in the final weeks of the year.
Don’t be surprised to see him scoring in the 20s and 30s over the next few weeks. He can score, and with Irving out he will likely have more freedom to be aggressive on offense.
Irving’s absence will also allow the other young players to step up and take on more leadership roles, and it may even allow the team to sign another guard in order to see what he can do.
It’s terrible to see Irving injured and out of action, but in the long run it could be a good thing for the Cavaliers.