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Kyrie Irving hoping to return to court next week

Guard fully participates in Thursday's practice; Durant does individual work as well

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has hopes of being back on the court before 2020 gets too far along.

Irving has been out of the lineup for nearly two months because of a right shoulder injury. However, he told reporters Thursday he expects to be re-evaluated next week. Just being cleared to play is a big step to Irving.

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

There is no exact date for his return, but Irving said Thursday he’s assigned himself a deadline of one week.

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

Irving was able to fully participate in practices for the first time on Thursday, which included him going through some 5-on-5 contact drills, ESPN’s Malika Andrews reports. He said that a week and a half ago, he began to do 2-on-2 work with coaches as he slowly began ramping up his workload.

When asked if there are any limitations about what he’s able to do, he said he has none “other than just keeping my shoulder maintenance program going before I get on the floor.”

Aside from Irving being on the court, the Nets got more good news in seeing Kevin Durant do some individual drill work at practice. Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said he has discussed how to run the offense with Irving and Durant and how it might look in two months.

In late October, Durant ruled out any hopes of a return this season. When Atkinson was asked Thursday about that possibility, he said the team is still operating under the notion he is out for the season. Atkinson also declined to say what kind of workouts Durant is having, but did say “he’s progressing fantastically.”

Durant is recovering from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. He was injured while playing for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, then left the Warriors to sign with the Nets in July.

Irving has played in just 11 games this season, averaging 28.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists. In the latest NBA All-Star Voting returns, Irving ranks second in the Eastern Conference among guards with 1,351,997 votes. He saw nothing wrong with him being so high in the voting tallies despite playing in so few games.

“I put a lot of work in this league to be up there whether I’m playing or not,” Irving said. “If it’s an All-Star Game, then I would vote for myself as well.”

Overall, this was a marked change in Irving’s demeanor and the overall team vibe when it came to him playing again this season. Just five days ago, Irving said there was a possibility he could need surgery on the shoulder.

Irving’s shoulder problem began with overuse near the end of training camp and got worse early in the regular season. He finally stopped playing after a Nov. 14 game in Denver and the Nets have said his injury is an impingement. Irving said he also had bursitis in the shoulder.

After signing with Brooklyn last July, Irving was hurt even before training camp when he was hit in the face while scrimmaging with teammates. He was hit again when he returned for an exhibition game in China, forcing him back to the sidelines.

Irving said that he had a cortisone shot in his shoulder on Dec. 24. He hoped then that the medication would stave off the need for surgery but was unsure of the cortisone’s effect.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.