BOSTON (CBS) — Kyrie Irving has been out of the Celtics’ lineup as he’s dealt with some lingering knee soreness. He may need to be out for a lot longer.

98.5 The Sports Hub’s Tony Massarotti reported on Tuesday that Irving may need to have screws surgically removed from his knee. The screws were put there in 2015, after Irving suffered a fractured knee cap during the NBA Finals.

Massarotti said there’s still a chance that Irving will be able to play through the pain, and that a second opinion will be sought this week.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports later reported the news as well.

Irving, who turns 26 years old this week, has averaged 24.4 points, 5.1 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals in his first season with the Celtics. He’s averaged 32.2 minutes per game, which is down from last year’s 35.1 minutes per game. He has missed the Celtics’ last three games and will be out Tuesday night against the Thunder.

Irving’s been dealing with soreness in his knee since last year, and a follow-up surgery has long been known as something he’ll eventually need. But the timing of the current diagnosis could certainly put a dent in the Celtics’ postseason plans.

“There was a lot of discussion, and that was a big part of it going forward,” Ainge said last Thursday in his interview on The Sports Hub. “Kyrie had the injury three years ago, so we knew that 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’s probably going to be a 72 to 75 game guy in order to keep him fresh for the playoffs. And that’s what it’s been. 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.”

Ainge was asked specifically about Irving’s need to have a surgical procedure.

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

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