Kyrie Irving expected to miss 3-6 weeks after undergoing surgery to remove tension wire in left knee

The rise of Kyrie Irving (0:58)

From No. 1 pick to world champion, watch as Kyrie Irving has morphed from being LeBron's sidekick to the leader of the Celtics. (0:58)

Boston Celtics All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving is expected to miss three to six weeks after undergoing surgery Saturday to remove a tension wire in his left knee, the team announced.

That timetable might allow Irving to return as early as Boston's first-round playoff series, but it seemingly rules out a return during the regular season.

"The wire was originally placed as part of the surgical repair of a fractured patella sustained during the 2015 NBA Finals," the Celtics said in a release. "While removal of the wire should relieve irritation it was causing in Irving's patellar tendon, the fractured patella has fully healed and Irving's knee has been found to be completely structurally sound."

Irving sought second opinions this week after soreness in his left knee failed to dissipate with extended rest. After being forced out of a loss to the Pacers earlier this month, Irving said he hoped to avoid surgery, but the Celtics announced Friday that he would undergo a "minimally invasive" procedure.

Irving is the third Celtics player in the past 10 days to undergo surgery, joining Daniel Theis (torn meniscus) and Marcus Smart (torn thumb tendon). The Celtics have played their past five games without the services of Irving, Smart, Theis, and Jaylen Brown (concussion). The Celtics have also been without All-Star Gordon Hayward since he fractured his ankle on opening night.

Theis is out for the remainder of the season, Smart is hoping to make a playoff return, and Brown could be back for Sunday's game in Sacramento.

The Celtics are expected to pursue a hardship exception given the rash of injuries. Boston is eligible for that emergency roster spot with four players (Hayward, Theis, Irving, Smart) each having missed three consecutive games and all projected to be out at least two weeks.

The Boston Herald reported Saturday that the Celtics would target free agent Sean Kilpatrick on a 10-day contract with that roster spot, but the newspaper later reported that Kilpatrick will sign elsewhere.

Boston has played recent games with a 12-man roster in which half the available bodies are rookies. With Marcus Morris and Jayson Tatum as the offensive focal points, the Celtics have defeated two of the top four teams in the West (Oklahoma City, Portland) and shuffled closer to locking up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Irving, who celebrated his 26th birthday Friday, is averaging 24.4 points, 5.1 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 60 appearances this season. He is playing 32.2 minutes per game, down nearly three full minutes from last season. Excluding his rookie season, it's the lowest average of Irving's career outside of when he played 31.5 minutes per game while working his way back from the initial surgery during the 2015-16 season.