HOUSTON — During an interview Friday on WFAN Radio, NBA analyst Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report and FS1 suggested that Nets star Kyrie Irving has been out since Nov. 14 not only with what has been described as a right shoulder impingement but also because he might be dealing with mental health issues.
“I hate to buy into salacious rumors, but I’ve heard from enough different places, and some of which I give credibility, that there’s a lot more going on with Kyrie than just physical issues, that he’s struggling,” Bucher told WFAN. “There’s some things that he has to work out, I don’t know, psychologically, mentally, however you want to determine it.
“My understanding is that there’s more going on here than just physical issues . . . There are some troubling signs that I’ve been told that there’s more than just physical ailments that he’s dealing with.”
Asked about Bucher’s comments before facing the Rockets on Saturday night at Toyota Center, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said he had no specific comment on the report. But he supported Irving’s commitment to rehab.
“In my mind, Kyrie has been great with the Nets, great with me, great with his teammates,” Atkinson said. “I think he’s going through a tough time with his shoulder and he’s doing everything he can do to get back to playing. I know he’s desperate to get back.
“I think the shoulder is a tricky one. We all want to be confident and sure the shoulder is right and that we can have him long term. We’re a big-picture organization. That’s important. We’ve relayed that message to him, and the medical team understands that. That being said, we want him back ASAP.”
Irving did not make the trip and missed his 20th straight game Saturday night.
Notes & quotes: Caris LeVert (right thumb surgery) had another full-contact workout Saturday morning with coaching staff members. Atkinson declined to say whether LeVert will return during the current three-game trip, but he missed his 22nd straight game Saturday.