Irving has been sidelined for much of the 2019-20 season because of a shoulder impingement, an injury that featured few specifics and no real timeline for a return.
"I don't think it's something he can play through right now," head coach Kenny Atkinson said in November, per Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News. "The shoulder is a sensitive spot, especially for a point guard, you're like a quarterback—the way he shoots it, passes it, the whole thing."
The injury was severe enough to keep him out for nearly two months, and it took significant time for him to even be cleared for contact.
It's certainly not what the Nets wanted after signing the guard to a four-year, $136 million contract in the offseason.
Irving has played well when healthy this season, averaging 28.5 points and 7.2 assists per game in 11 appearances. The six-time All-Star is a difference-maker when on the court, but injuries remain an issue, with this being the third straight year of fewer than 70 games played.
Now that he is back to full strength, he will hopefully get a chance to live up to the high expectations placed on him when he signed on this offseason.