Though Nets coach Kenny Atkinson insisted Kyrie Irving’s shoulder impingement isn’t a long-term injury, he said the team isn’t treating the All-Star guard with kid gloves. He also admitted Irving couldn’t play right now even with the playoffs on the line, and said they’re taking the long-term view.
“I don’t think it’s a long-term thing, [but] I wouldn’t say we’re being over-cautious. He has a situation that’s prevented him from playing,” Atkinson said before a 101-91 win over Charlotte. “This a collaborative thing. We’ve talked about it before. This is the best course of action. Do I think it’s a long-term thing? No. I don’t think he can play through it right now quite honestly.
“That’s where we are, and we’ll see where that goes. He’s working on it with our performance team, working to get well. … The shoulder is just sensitive, especially for a point guard, like a quarterback. The way he shoots it, passing, the whole thing. He’s working through it right now, and we’ve got to work through not having him quite honestly.”
Irving suffered the injury Nov. 12 in Utah, and after playing through it two days later in Denver, he now has missed three straight games.
An expert who spoke with The Post said Irving could be treated with physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medicine, an injection and several days to two weeks of rest. He hasn’t received a shot and has now had a week of rest, but he is not expected to practice Thursday.
“I sincerely doubt it,” said Atkinson, who would prefer to see Irving practice before he plays.
“We have a protocol before a guy comes back to play. Usually we’re not just going to throw you out there without seeing you. We have these kind of set standards in the past. He understands that. We’re not at that point yet. Hopefully, he will get there soon.”
The Nets have games against the Kings on Friday and with the Knicks on Sunday at the Garden before Irving gets three straight revenge games against his former teams: Monday at Cleveland, Wednesday at Boston then a Black Friday home rematch with the Celtics.
Jarrett Allen (22 points), Spencer Dinwiddie (20) and Taurean Prince (20) all topped 20 points, the first time the Nets have had three players do that all season.
Allen and DeAndre Jordan combined for 36 points after not topping 22 combined all season. The Nets looked for them to make plays out of the pick-and-roll with Irving hurt.
The Nets outrebounded Charlotte 53-41, the 12-rebound edge being their third-best margin of the season.