Cleveland fans got a jolt of terrifying news on Thursday when the Cavaliers suggested they were considering resting Kyrie Irving for the rest of the season due to concerns about his right knee. The knee injury caused him to miss three games last week.
After their 104-101 victory over the Jazz on Wednesday, Irving told reporters that his knee is still bothering him:
Kyrie said knee still bothering him. "The only way I would get better is if I sit out for the rest of the season and I’m not doing that."— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) March 7, 2013
That was apparently enough to put Cavs management in full-blown crisis mode, with Byron Scott telling reporters that he would consult with the training staff on Thursday afternoon about the best course of action for their young franchise player.
And while Irving's increasingly lengthy injury history in college and the NBA has to be a concern for Cavs fans, shutting him down may be in Cleveland's best interest over the long term. They have long since been eliminated from the playoff race and any games they lose in March and April will help them get a higher lottery pick in this year's draft.
***An updated transcript of Scott's responses to reporters' questions about shutting down Irving:
Q: Would you consider shutting him down for a lengthy period of time?
A: If he says it's bothering him again to a point where I know it's bothering him enough that he can't perform the way I know he's capable of, then yeah.
Q: So there's a chance he could be shut down again by tomorrow?
A: Yeah, if he's hurting.
***Update #2: The Cavs have also apparently clarified the comments and said Irving will not be shut down.
Cavs say Kyrie Irving won't be shut down. Coach Byron Scott said he would consider doing it if Irving's knee continues to bother him— Bob Finnan (@BobCavsinsider) March 7, 2013