The list of former Kentucky Wildcats dealing with minor injuries gets longer by the day. John Wall (WAS) and Darius Miller (NOP) have been ruled out for a while, dealing with long term injuries. However, there are now three members of the BBNBA that find themselves with injuries that don’t have concrete return dates. P.J. Washington (CHA) has been battling two separate minor injuries but isn’t expected to miss any time. Let’s talk about the three who are out.
Enes Kanter (BOS) – out since Oct. 23 with knee contusion
Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter posted 12 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes during the team’s season-opener against the Philadelphia 76ers. However, he left the game at one point with a knee issue before returning and finishing the game against Joel Embiid.
Kanter took an awkward fall in that game, which led to the big man holding his knee and wincing in pain. Despite the fact that he would play out the rest of the game, Kanter has not since returned to the Celtics lineup. Boston has rattled off seven straight wins since Kanter’s injury.
At first, Kanter was expected to be back in the rotation sooner rather than later. This past Monday, one day before the Celtics took down the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kanter said the plan was for him to play against the Cavs, according to Mass Live. Obviously, he did not.
Head coach Brad Stevens told reporters on Thursday that Kanter was “improving” but that the training staff didn’t feel comfortable letting him play. The 27-year old dealt with a nagging shoulder injury during the Portland Trail Blazers playoff run last spring that hindered his ability on the court, although he did not miss one game.
So now the question is how hurt can Kanter actually be right now?
Backup big men Robert Williams and Daniel Theis have done a solid job in taking over for Kanter, especially on the defensive end, but neither is as talented on offense as Kanter. The recent injury to Gordon Hayward might make the Celtics more inclined to bring back Kanter, but they’ve been playing extremely well as of late with Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and Jayson Tatum leading the way. It’s still early in the year, so there’s no need to rush Kanter back, especially if the team continues to pull out wins.
Rajon Rondo (LAL) – has not played this season
Rajon Rondo was hoping to make his season debut on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors, but that date has since been pushed back, according to Chris Haynes.
Sources: Rondo was aiming for a return on Sunday, but he will instead partake in a workout session with a few bodies to ramp up his endurance. https://t.co/H37kFA9Cng
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) November 10, 2019
Rondo has been held out with a mild calf strain during the Los Angeles Lakers 7-1 record to start the year. Rondo underwent an MRI two weeks ago that revealed the strain.
The point guard came into the season with expectations that he would start right away. In his absence, the Lakers have rolled out weird guard lineups that typically slot LeBron James as the “point guard”. Avery Bradley, Quinn Cook, and Alex Caruso have all split minutes as the lead guard. The hope is that Rondo’s return helps mitigate some of the ball-handling duties off of James.
Rondo should be ready to go any day now. He’s been working out in 5-on-5 drills and participating in practice. But I’ll be honest, the people I follow and trust on social media are not particularly looking forward to Rondo’s return. There are concerns that Rondo will take away minutes from the budding backcourt players of Cook and Caruso without being a positive impact player.
In 46 games for the Lakers last season, Rondo posted an on/off figure of minus-9.6 points per 100 possessions. He should be a perfect match with Anthony Davis in the pick-and-roll, but is only a reliable shooter when left wide-open and hasn’t been an average defender in a few seasons. His eventual return could have some major impacts.
Skal Labissiere (POR) – sprained ankle in previous game against Nets
Portland center Skal Labissiere recently sprained his ankle in a close loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. The big man hurt his ankle after trying to block a shot early in the fourth quarter, but rolled it on the way down and did not return to the game.
Add Skal Labissiere to the Blazers injury report. He rolled his right ankle after defending a shot. He walked off but went straight to locker room. Type of roll that brought “ooohs” from crowd after seeing replay.
— Jason Quick (@jwquick) November 9, 2019
The Trail Blazers are already insanely thin in the frontcourt as Jusuf Nurkic has been out since March, Hassan Whiteside has been dealing with minor injuries, and Zach Collins was just told he will need surgery on his shoulder. Labissiere was filling in those minutes and playing decent basketball for the first time since he was in his second NBA season. Unfortunately, he could miss some time going forward. Luckily, his X-rays came back negative, but he doesn’t sound to be in good health at the moment.
“Walking around it hurts, but that’s part of it… It’s pretty painful… I should be back as soon as possible,” Labissiere said in the postgame interviews, according to Yahoo! Sports.
The Blazers are already struggling with a 3-6 record and way too much reliance on star point guard Damian Lillard to put up unrealistic numbers (a recent 60-point outing from Lillard in a loss is all you need to know). Injuries are piling up for Portland, they need Labissiere back soon in a bad way.