Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said star guard Kyrie Irving could ultimately need surgery on his sore left knee, but is expected to be “fresh and healthy” for the upcoming playoffs with a positive long-term prognosis.

Irving underwent surgery on the same knee after fracturing his kneecap during the 2015 NBA Finals. The Celtics knew when they acquired him this summer he would likely need to miss some games to stay fresh.

“There was a lot of discussion (at the time),” Ainge said Thursday during his weekly radio interview. “And that was a big part of it going forward too was Kyrie had the injury. So we knew there would be maintenance issues, but his long-term prognostication is good. He’s going to have some maintenance issues here and there. We knew coming into this year that he probably wasn’t going to be an 82-game guy. He was going to be a 72-, 75-game guy in order to keep him fresh for the playoffs. And thats what it’s been. And we’re just extra cautious. We have the good fortune of being extra cautious right now. And we want him fresh and healthy. And we think that he will be come playoff time.”

Irving will reportedly need minor surgery at some point as a follow to his 2015 procedure.

“He has some surgery that may need to happen,” Ainge said. “But maybe not this summer. Maybe the following summer or maybe the summer after that. I think that he could probably do it any time he wanted, but I’m not sure that it’s needed at this moment.”

Irving recently suggested he would prefer to avoid surgery if possible. Asked if the injury is something that will need to be “dealt with” at some point in the future, he replied, “I don’t know.”


“I hope not,” Irving said. “I’ve been down that road before. I’ve had a fractured kneecap already. So I think taking games like this, being smart about it probably will put me in a better position not to be out for a long period of time. That’s the last thing I want to do.”

Irving, who missed Wednesday night’s loss to the Washington Wizards, is expected to travel on the upcoming two-game trip. Ainge said the Irving’s “body will tell us” how to proceed.

PELICANS: New Orleans signed free-agent guard Larry Drew II to a 10-day contract.

The 6-foot-2 Drew has spent part of this season in the G League with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, averaging 11.8 points, 7.4 assists and 4.6 rebounds in 35 games. He has shot 40 percent from 3-point range.


RAPTORS 106, PACERS 99: DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points, Jonas Valanciunas added 16 points and 17 rebounds, and visiting Toronto rallied late to win its 10th straight.


The Raptors need one more win to tie the franchise’s longest winning streak. They haven’t lost since Feb. 23 and broke a tie with the 2016-17 squad for longest road winning streak, which is now at eight.

But it sure wasn’t easy on a night Darron Collison scored 22 points and Al Jefferson had 20 for Indiana.

76ERS 118, KNICKS 110: Joel Embiid had 29 points and 10 rebounds, Ben Simmons finished with a triple-double, and Philadelphia used a big final quarter to win at New York.

The Sixers, who hold the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race, trailed by as many as 13 points in the third quarter before storming back in the final quarter, going on a 20-6 run during the last five minutes of regulation.

Simmons finished with 13 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

Michael Beasley had 24 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks, who have lost a season-high nine straight games and 17 of 18.

ROCKETS 101, CLIPPERS 96: James Harden scored 24 points, Eric Gordon added 23 and Houston outlasted visiting Los Angeles.

HORNETS 129, HAWKS 117: Dwight Howard scored 20 of his season-high 33 points in the second half, Nicolas Batum had a triple-double and set a career high with 16 assists, and Charlotte won at Atlanta.

Kemba Walker added 24 points and Marvin Williams had 17 for Charlotte, which kept its slim playoff hopes alive.

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