Kyrie Irving to Miss Rest of Season for the Nets

Nets guard Kyrie Irving will have an operation on his ailing right shoulder and miss the rest of the regular season, Sean Marks, the team’s general manager, told reporters on Thursday.

Marks said the decision had been made after Irving spent the “last few days visiting with a specialist.” Irving is expected to return in time for the beginning of next season, but a more specific timetable will not be determined until after the operation.

“He’s obviously upset about this,” Marks said. “We’re here to support him, support the process, moving forward with him.”

Irving, one of the franchise’s marquee free agent signings from last summer, had already missed much of the season because of the injury, plus a few games because of a knee injury. He was limited to only 20 games, but when he was on the court, Irving was one of the most productive players in the N.B.A., averaging 27.4 points a game on a 59.5 true shooting percentage, in addition to 6.4 assists a game.

This was always to be a bridge season of sorts for the Nets, who are expected to have Kevin Durant back next season, assuming he recovers from the torn Achilles’ tendon he sustained as a member of the Golden State Warriors during the N.B.A. finals.

But even so, Irving’s injury is clearly a disappointment for the Nets, who have struggled with injuries, even beyond Durant’s, all season. And Irving has been hurt throughout his career: Now in his ninth N.B.A. season, Irving has played 70 games in a season just three times in his career. Marks said that Irving’s long-term health was the “No. 1 priority.”

“We’re looking at the big picture here,” Marks said. “We’re not looking at the next two, three months. We’re looking at the next two, three years.”

In January, Irving told reporters that he had taken a cortisone shot in an attempt to stave off surgery and return to the court. It was a stark contrast from his optimism early in the season, especially after he dropped 50 points on opening night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He began missing games because of the shoulder after a Nov. 14 game against the Denver Nuggets. But Irving, a six-time All-Star, surprised observers by returning in mid-January and playing exceptionally well against the Atlanta Hawks, scoring 21 points in 20 minutes. At the end of the month, Irving scored 54 points on 23 shot attempts against the Chicago Bulls. But he was playing through pain, Marks said.

“It gets to the point where you say enough is enough,” Marks said. “Again, it goes to long-term health, and the best prognosis right now is to shut him down and get this taken care of once and for all.”

However, the Nets held serve during his 26-game absence, when they went 13-13. Entering Thursday night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Nets were seventh in the Eastern Conference at 25-28. Five games up on the ninth-seeded Washington Wizards with 29 games left, they will most likely make the playoffs.

However, without Irving, the Nets will have to rely more on Spencer Dinwiddie, their dynamic point guard who carried the team in Irving’s absence, averaging 24.8 points and 7.2 assists in that stretch of games.

“It’s kind of been a roller coaster year,” Marks said.