Kyrie Irving shares an update on recovery from left knee infection

"You ask anybody with an infection, they will probably try to downplay it."

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving signs a basketball for a fan during training camp for USA Basketball. –P Photo/John Locher

While at Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas Thursday, Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving told reporters he has been cleared to participate in basketball activities.

Irving said he’s been back on the court for the last two months, though he has not yet played 5-on-5 basketball. Most of his sessions consist of individual workouts — focusing on skill work and movement — with his strength and conditioning coach, Robin Pound, whom he also played 1-on-1 with Thursday morning.

“I mean, it’s the summer,” Irving said. “I utilize that to make sure I’m healthy going into training camp. Obviously, I would love to be playing 5-on-5.”

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Thirty five players were invited to participate in the three-day Team USA minicamp, which wraps up Friday. Although Irving attended Thursday’s practice in street clothes, he said he will “easily” be ready to go for the first day of Celtics training camp in September. Irving’s recovery is on track with the timeline the team announced in April, when he underwent a procedure to remove two screws that were causing an infection in his left knee. Irving revealed Thursday the hardware, had it not been removed, could have become even more problematic.

“It could have evolved to staph, but good thing we caught it early,” he said. “I am glad that is done though, man. That was a long, long f—— two months.”

Irving said he was on antibiotics for about two months following the surgery.

“It was a long rigorous practice trying to get that infection out, make sure I was safe and then rehabbing from there,” he said. “I’ve been rehabbing for the last month and some change where I actually can do something without much restriction.”

Celtics forward Gordon Hayward was also invited to participate in Team USA minicamp, but he did not attend. Hayward is recovering from a procedure similar to Irving’s, in which he had a plate and screws removed from his left ankle because they were causing pain. He is also expected to be ready to go for training camp.

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Both players have expressed excitement for their returns. At full strength, the Celtics are slated to be one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference.

“The most important thing right now is finding our cohesion,” Irving said. “Finding that is going to be a process, which I am looking forward to doing with Danny [Ainge], Brad [Stevens], [and] everybody.”

2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team Minicamp
Victor Oladipo, Kyrie Irving, and Russell Westbrook joke around during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men’s National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV. —Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images