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Nets’ Kyrie Irving won’t play in Saturday’s game vs. Bulls

Kyrie Irving, Nets

Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving will not play in Saturday evening’s contest against the Chicago Bulls, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Irving played in each of the first 11 games of the season for the Nets, but he has been harboring a shoulder impingement that has left his status up for grabs.

The six-time All-Star was initially labeled as questionable for Thursday’s game against the Denver Nuggets, but Irving did indeed give it a go, scoring 17 points on 8-of-20 shooting.

Given that the Nets are already off to a disappointing 4-7 start, they will be cautious with their star point guard. Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson hinted that he wanted to limit Irving’s minutes, if possible (via Brian Lewis of the New York Post):

After playing Irving 36:41 against the Jazz, coach Kenny Atkinson admitted he had hoped to ease the burden on his star, both in terms of having LeVert relieve him of some ball-handling duties and scaling back his minutes. But he simply hadn’t been able to.

“It’s tough, especially without Caris. There was no [other option],” Atkinson said. “I didn’t feel like there was another rotation we could go to. We needed his ball-handling out there.

“You know my philosophy, I’ve never loved playing guys 40 minutes. I just don’t think in the long term it’s a smart thing. But there’s a situation right now where he has to play those minutes. But it’s definitely something I’m going to consider and understand that we can’t play the guy 40 minutes. It’s just not smart.”

The injuries are starting to stack up in Brooklyn. DeAndre Jordan already missed a couple games, and now LeVert is sidelined for several weeks after undergoing surgery on his thumb.

The Nets have been one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, but with LeVert out and Irving ailing, they will also need to find a way to get more creative on the offensive side of the ball.