For the sake of his career, as well as the Cavaliers franchise, Irving must rest for the remainder of the season.
During a 100-96 loss to the Toronto Raptors on March 10, Irving drove the lane with 2:04 remaining in the third quarter. After being bumped by Raptors rookie Jonas Valanciunas, Irving fell hard on his left shoulder.
''I was afraid to touch it,'' Irving said of his shoulder. ''I was just unsure of what was going on.''
A frustrated Irving said the shoulder ''still doesn't feel right'' when he spoke with reporters afterward, and he appeared to be favoring it as he got dressed.
Irving is now going to be sidelined for roughly one month.
At 21-42, the Cavaliers have a decision to make about their franchise point guard's future. That, of course, comes in the form of one question.
Is it worth risking yet another injury by allowing Irving to return before season's end?
Nothing More to Gain
As of March. 11, the Cleveland Cavaliers are 12 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff structure. Milwaukee has 21 games remaining, while Cleveland has 19 left on its schedule.
Barring a miracle, the Cavs will not make the playoffs.
With this in mind, it would behoove the Cavaliers to think long-term. As beneficial as Kyrie Irving's return would be for morale and ticket sales, the Cavs cannot risk his health for meaningless games.
Not when Cleveland's final regular-season game will be played on April 17 at the Charlotte Bobcats—roughly five weeks from his diagnosis with a three-to-four week time of absence.
History of Injuries
In December of 2010, Kyrie Irving suffered a right toe injury while attending Duke University. Irving proceeded to play in just 11 of the Blue Devils' 37 games that season.
His story hasn't been much different in the NBA.
As a rookie, Irving missed 15 games due to injury. In 2012-13, the reigning Three-Point Contest champion has missed 14 games—and counting.
Tommy Beer of HoopsWorld.com provided the most telling information of all via Twitter.
Tommy Beer @TommyBeer
Kyrie Irving has missed at least 2 games due to injury in 7 of the 9 months he’s played in the NBA… & vast majority of his 1 season at Duke3/11/2013, 6:49:44 PM
Like it or not, that falls under the category of "injury-prone."
Rather than doing all he can to return as soon as possible, Irving should be focusing his attention in a different direction. That, of course, is to discover ways to prevent future injuries.
Working with the training staff on how to properly fall or land could go a long way towards preserving the longevity of Irving's career.
Allow a Young Team to Develop
Without Kyrie Irving in the lineup, the ball will likely find more hands. In turn, the Cleveland Cavaliers' young rotation will be forced to turn to unsung heroes during late-game situations.
The perfect way to develop a young team.
Irving's late-game prowess is undeniable, as he ranks second in the NBA with 71 field goals made with 5:00 or less remaining in the fourth quarter or overtime. Second on the Cavaliers, is Dion Waiters with 34.
Without Irving, Waiters will be able to step up with the likes of Tristan Thompson, 27, and Alonzo Gee, 16.
Beyond the clutch time, however, is the need for the Cavaliers to play 48 minutes without their star. This will call on young players to rise up and truly learn of the burden an NBA franchise places upon their players.
For those who believe they've already experienced that, note that Irving ranks fourth in the NBA with a usage rate of 28.8 percent.
There is no denying that the Cavaliers are better with Irving. In terms of personnel development, however, the Cavaliers are better off without Irving risking re-injury.
It may be a tough pill to swallow, but Irving must sit out the remainder of the season.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!