Uncle Drew is finally back, and sooner than later the man behind the myth will be, too. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving has begun taking contact in practice and could make his season debut before Thanksgiving.
The 22-year-old is still recovering from the fractured left kneecap he suffered in overtime of Game 1 of the NBA Finals. He had surgery to repair the injury immediately thereafter, upon which time the Cavaliers announced he would “return to basketball activities in three to four months.”
“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Irving told ESPN.com before the Cavs hosted the New York Knicks in Wednesday’s 96-86 victory. “In terms of a date, I do have one in my head, but obviously, I’m not going to share it for a little bit. I think all the rumors that everyone said in terms of [a] January [return] or whatever, I’ll let them stay out there. But for me, I’m just trying to take it one day at a time, and I’m just continuing the process.”
The 7-1 Cavaliers sport the league’s second-best record despite the absence of Irving and fellow regular backcourt starter Iman Shumpert. Veteran offseason acquisitions Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson have played well in their stead, while Cleveland has also used its current lack of scoring punch to afford Kevin Love a bigger role in the offense – one of which he’s made the most.
LeBron James and company clearly don’t need Irving to garner a high playoff seed in a mediocre conference. Come spring and certainly early summer, though, the Cavaliers almost surely wouldn’t be able to accomplish their ultimate goal without their electric floor general on the court.
And if this report is to be believed, Irving will have ample time to get acclimated before Cleveland’s real season starts in the playoffs.