Even if Kyrie does not play a single minute. To have him practicing with the team (hopefully soon) and sitting on the sideline dressed to play will be a huge emotional boost to our guys. I don't think they will see him as a crutch, but as rocket fuel. I laugh when I read things about his being somehow a distraction or how having Kyrie play (even for five minutes) is a detriment to the team. Remember, this is a kid who is going to be, most likely, the first pick in the draft and we have a guy name Mike Krzyzewski coaching the team.
To some people on here that have brought up the point that Kyrie Irving would take away from the team effort in practice is not a great argument. There is no way that Nolan and Kyle will let any guys not go all out on him to ensure he is ready, plus Coach K knows when his guys aren't going all out, so he'll be watching that closely. Also he is coming back because Nike specifically designed a shoe for him, so he himself is not worried about re-injuring it. That is the most important aspect of this because if he feels safe with his toe there will be no reason for him not to return unless his parents don't want him to risk it at all. Also with chances of a lockout he would be sitting out anyways, so what's the harm of him actually playing basketball? All in all I am extremely confident that he will return 10 or more minutes in the first 2 games then a week off until the sweet 16 where he could go a lot harder for longer. I could be wrong, but Coach K wouldn't have let him talk if he didn't think he would be returning.
Swimming & Diving
Track & Field
However, I agree with those who said when Kyrie plays it will be with Nolan, rather than replacing Nolan. Nolan is the ACC player of the year and on all-ACC defensive team. He has shown an aptitude for playing 38 to 40 minutes a game. What do we gain by replacing that with Kyrie, even if Kyrie is just as good (or better, although I suspect he'll need a fair amount of game time before he again reaches that level).
Seems to me what Kyrie brings is best used in combination with Nolan. Having two lockdown backcourt defenders can totally shut down a guard-oriented team, and should be able to at least disrupt most if not all opposing offenses. And when we're on offense, if Nolan and Kyrie are in together, who is the opponent's best defender going to guard? Add in Kyle and it makes it that much more troubling for opposing defenses. And if we go small, there will be nobody left to guard Andre or Seth at all. And all this is true even if Kyrie is only three-quarters speed, because our opponents will have to respect his full potential even if he isn't exhibiting it on the court.
By the way, I said "Andre or Seth" in the above paragraph, but because of Seth's size, our "small" lineup will most likely contain Andre rather than Seth. I continue to believe there will be few opportunities for Nolan/Kyrie/Seth to play together. Seth will probably be the guy to spell both Kyrie and Nolan, which should still leave plenty of playing time for him since I doubt Kyrie will be playing big minutes.
Of course, all the above is contingent on Kyrie actually playing again. From what everyone's saying I still don't put the odds at much better than 50/50.
Also, I never liked the shoes. When I was doing a lot of running back when I was active duty, I had a pair or two and they were not supportive enough. I found that I liked ASICS much better and even New Balance...
Don't get me wrong, I am still hopeful, and when I say "50/50" it is clearly a very uninformed and unscientific assessment of the probability (with absolutely no inside information), but until I hear that he has had two or three full speed practices without mishap, and/or his father or the coaching staff announce he's going to play, it's hard for me to say it's more likely than not that he'll get on the floor during the games.