Sportress of Blogitude

Kyrie Irving taking part in five-on-five drills, hopes to return soon

Kyrie Irving has been ramping up his on-the-court activities, and the progress he’s made while doing so of late has him optimistic his return to the court following a lengthy layoff could be imminent.

The Brooklyn Nets star recently has been occasionally participating in five-on-five drills during practices along with some contact work. Irving expects to be re-evaluated within the next week, and he hopes to be cleared to play at that time.

“We just see where we end up in the next few days,” Irving said Thursday, per Malika Andrews of ESPN. “Realistically, we will re-evaluate tomorrow. See how I feel tomorrow. Then go Saturday — probably another practice.”

Irving has been out nearly two months due to what was ultimately diagnosed as a right shoulder impingement. The increased workload of late is in addition to maintaining the shoulder maintenance program that has been part of his ongoing rehab.

The Nets point guard’s lengthy absence — Irving last played on Nov. 14 — has been marred by frequent starts, stops and setbacks, as it seemed like there were numerous occasions when it was believed he would be back on the court within a few days. Such timelines, however, were quickly extended.

Irving declined to set a date for his long-awaited return, but has set a self-imposed deadline of one week.

“Hopefully I get some game reps in addition to practice probably in the next week or so,” Irving said, “it could be less than that but I’ll give myself a week.”

The Nets have managed to tread water in Irving’s absence, and sit with a 16-20 record that leaves them sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Irving’s return obviously would be a welcome development for the Nets, but there were some signs of dysfunction even before his injury. Reports suggested that Nets leadership were starting to grow weary of the mercurial superstar’s antics behind the scenes, a troubling sign given Irving’s brief tenure in Brooklyn.

It goes without saying getting Irving back playing games would be a necessary first step to getting things headed back in the right direction for all parties involved.