Irving went through one-on-one drills with his trainer Thursday and said he expects to be fully ready for Boston Celtics training camp.
In April, he underwent season-ending surgery to remove two screws from his left patella, after the Celtics revealed a bacterial infection was discovered at the site of the screws.
Irving said Thursday that the infection discovered on the metal wiring and screws in his knee could have evolved into a staph infection, but that it was caught and treated early enough to avoid that outcome. To treat the infection, Irving said he had a catheter inserted into a vein going into his heart.
“I mean, you ask anybody with an infection, they will probably try to downplay it,” Irving said when asked how scary the infection was. “It’s a personal thing because your body is going through it. I was fighting an infection in a specific place in your body where you can’t necessarily reach with your hands. You got to go in there and kind of see what’s going on, and what happened for me was, the metal wiring and the screws that I had in there, the infection was on that, so I had to remove that and then be on antibiotics for about two months.
“It could have evolved to staph, but good thing we caught it early. I am glad that is done. That was a long, long f—ing two months.”
Irving was in street clothes when he attended the USA Basketball men’s national team practice Thursday, but he did throw passes to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo at the end of practice while in jeans.
Irving said he has been back on the court for a few months, doing some work that involved light contact, but he has not been cleared yet for any five-on-five action. He did skill work and movement in his one-on-one work Thursday.
Irving detailed how difficult it was to get over the bacterial infection in his knee. The screws were inserted in 2015 to repair a fracture he suffered during the 2015 NBA Finals. The infection at the site of the screws was discovered when Irving had surgery on March 24 to remove tension wire that was placed in his knee during the 2015 procedure.
“For the last two months, it was a long, rigorous process, trying to get that infection out and make sure I was safe,” Irving said. “And then rehabbing from there. So I have been rehabbing probably for the last month and some change where I can actually do something without much restrictions.”
Irving said he is eager to see how the Celtics mesh with everyone healthy. Gordon Hayward is coming back from a season-ending ankle injury he suffered five minutes into Boston’s season opener in Cleveland in October. With Irving and Hayward out of the playoffs, several young Celtics such as Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier stepped up to help Boston come within a Game 7 win of reaching the NBA Finals.
“Nothing but excited to lead that group. I mean, we haven’t started [yet, so] everyone is zero-zero right now. … The most important thing right now is finding our cohesion,” Irving said, pointing out that he and Hayward basically haven’t played together in a game yet.
“So finding that [cohesion] is going to be a process, which I am looking forward to doing with Danny [Ainge], Brad [Stevens], everybody.”
Irving said he will “easily” be ready to go for the first day of training camp.
“This is probably one of the first summers in the last seven years where I have actually had time to develop and work on things that I want to improve on,” he said. “I have been playing USA every summer or I was hurt one summer or we are coming off a championship.
“It has been a grind, and it kind of caught up with me last season, and now getting a chance to really take my time and focus on my body this summer.”