Tiago Splitter Injury: Updates on Spurs Forward’s Back and Return

Already set to miss the San Antonio Spurs’ season opener against the Dallas Mavericks with a strained calf, center Tiago Splitter is also dealing with an undisclosed back injury, head coach Gregg Popovich told reporters Tuesday night.   

Jeff McDonald, covering the game for the San Antonio Express-News reported the news:

Splitter, 29, suffered a strained right soleus during training camp and missed the entire preseason. The Brazilian was one of three key contributors ruled out for Tuesday night’s opener, with an eye infection holding Kawhi Leonard back and Patty Mills still rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery.

The Spurs are arguably the NBA‘s most conservative team when it comes to nursing regular-season injuries. Popovich has been known to sit his high-profile players whenever he sees fit and will often keep injured players out longer than expected, taking a long-term view of the 82-game season.

Splitter, who has emerged as a solid two-way complement to Tim Duncan, missed 23 games last season, most notably with a shoulder injury. There is no word on when Splitter will be expected back in the lineup this time around, especially with the back ailment combining with the calf strain. Popovich did not indicate when Splitter first noticed pain in his back.

Boris Diaw has spent most of the preseason starting in Splitter’s place, a trend that should continue Tuesday night. Marco Belinelli will slot in for Leonard.

After opening with a home tilt against Dallas, the Spurs have Wednesday and Thursday off before taking on the Suns in Phoenix. There is no word on whether Splitter will travel with the team. San Antonio’s next home game is Nov. 5 against the Atlanta Hawks, which would seem like the earliest possibility for Splitter’s return.

 

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David West Injury: Updates on Pacers Forward’s Ankle and Return

Between the injury to Paul George and Lance Stephenson signing with the Charlotte Hornets, the Indiana Pacers had one of the worst offseasons of anybody in the NBA. Now comes news of an injury to David West.

The Pacers announced that the power forward sprained his ankle in a 98-93 win over the Dallas Mavericks:

You can see how the injury happened below.

The injury could potentially be huge for Indiana. It’s very possible that the team could go from being the top seed in the Eastern Conference in 2013-14 to missing the playoffs altogether in 2014-15.

West figures to be one of the biggest reasons the Pacers could potentially sneak into the postseason despite all the offseason upheaval. The 34-year-old averaged 14 points and 6.8 rebounds a game last year.

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Glen Davis Injury: Updates on Clippers Forward’s Groin and Recovery

Injury woes have cropped up once again for Los Angeles Clippers big man Glen Davis heading into his team’s preseason contest Friday against the Utah Jazz.

Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times reported Davis was out with a right groin strain:

Davis stayed relatively healthy throughout his career in Boston, but injuries began to take their toll in his tenure with the Magic. He missed 69 games throughout his first two seasons in Orlando. 

After being traded to the Clippers in the middle of last season, he started slow in a new environment and lost his spot in the rotation shortly before turning it around just before the postseason. He averaged just 3.8 points and 2.7 rebounds in the playoffs.

The Clippers are in decent shape with their frontcourt bench after securing Spencer Hawes and Ekpe Udoh over the offseason, but there’s no replacement for Davis’ motor and tough-nosed defense. Doc Rivers knew what he was bringing in after coaching Davis in Boston, and his dedication to keeping him as a contributor reflects that.

Either way, a lingering injury is the last thing that Davis or the Clippers need with the season fast approaching. Expect both parties to err on the side of caution and not return Davis to action until he’s fully ready.

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Wes Johnson Injury: Updates on Lakers Forward’s Knee and Return

The Los Angeles Lakers picked up a preseason victory over the Denver Nuggets Monday night, but there were more pressing concerns than the result of an exhibition game. Serena Winters of Lakers Nation provided an update on the health of Wes Johnson:

Mike Trudell of Lakers.com provided an encouraging update after the Lakers’ win:

Johnson actually started Monday’s game and saw 24 minutes of action, which was the most among the five starters. He had nine points on 4-of-6 shooting before leaving the contest with the knee concerns.

The fact that it doesn’t seem to be particularly serious is welcome news for a Lakers team that could use a respite in the injury department after Kobe Bryant missed so much time the past year.

Johnson’s spot in the starting lineup Monday doesn’t necessarily mean he will be one of the first five on the court in the regular season, but he will clearly have a significant role. He averaged 9.1 points a night for the Lakers last year and was a threat from behind the three-point line.

If Johnson wants to improve on his numbers during the 2014-15 campaign and help Bryant try to steer Los Angeles back to the playoffs, he will have to stay healthy.

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Projecting NBA’s Top 10 Small Forwards Heading into 2014-15 Season

In today’s NBA, the small forward position represents star power. 

With five of the last six MVP awards, the last five scoring titles and the last three NBA Finals MVP awards, players at the 3 have shown that their position might be the most talent-filled spot in the league.

So let’s take a stab at who will populate the list of the NBA’s top 10 small forwards in the upcoming season. Naturally, players presumed to be out for the year due to injury, such as Paul George, are not eligible for ranking. 

We’ll also look at what each player’s statistics could look like in 2014-15. Better statistics will help a player’s ranking, but stats don’t tell the whole story. A player’s defensive ability isn’t always accurately quantified by stats, and a player’s role within his team may skew his numbers one way or the other. 

And, to clarify, ESPN.com’s player profiles will have the final say on a player’s position. For example, Carmelo Anthony plays a lot of his minutes at the power forward position, but ESPN still lists him as a small forward. 

Which 3s will rule the NBA hardwood in 2014-15? Flip to the next slide to find out.

 

Honorable mentions: Luol Deng, Danilo Gallinari, Josh Smith, Jeff Green, Nick Young

All stats used are from Sports-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.

Begin Slideshow

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Jonas Valanciunas Injury: Updates on Raptors Forward’s Back Sprain and Return

It has been an impressive 2013-14 season for the Toronto Raptors, and the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference is very much in play. 

However, Toronto received some unwelcome news on Tuesday during a game with the Atlanta Hawks, via the team’s media relations Twitter page:

Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points, five rebounds and an assist behind 5-of-7 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 shooting from the free-throw line before exiting the game against the Hawks.

On the season, Valanciunas is averaging 10.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and nearly a block a night as the Raptors’ center. Considering how tight the race for the No. 3 seed is between Toronto, the Chicago Bulls, the Washington Wizards and the Brooklyn Nets, losing the big man would be of concern for Toronto.

What’s more, back issues can often linger, especially for an NBA center dealing with the physical demands of the position every night. Keep an eye on Valanciunas going forward.

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Mike Dunleavy Injury: Updates on Bulls Forward’s Eye Laceration and Return

The Chicago Bulls have been snakebitten by injuries the past two seasons. 

You can add Mike Dunleavy to that list.

Fortunately for Bulls fans, his ailment doesn’t look like one that will keep him out for an extended amount of time. That being said, it still appeared rather painful, as Rachel Nichols of CNN and Turner Sports pointed out:

The Chicago Bulls’ official Twitter page gave the details of how the injury occurred:

The Bulls are known for their gritty and physical defense, so it should come as no surprise that Dunleavy hurt himself when trying to take a charge.

Chicago is currently in a tight race with the likes of the Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards and Brooklyn Nets for the No. 3 seed behind the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers in the wide-open Eastern Conference—they can ill-afford to lose the sharp-shooter for an extended period of time.

If Dunleavy were seriously injured, it would hurt the Bulls’ already tenuous depth situation and eliminate one of their best three-point shooters from the rotation.

Check back for updates as they unfold.

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Gerald Wallace Injury: Updates on Celtics Forward’s Meniscus and Recovery

A tough season for the Boston Celtics won’t get any easier Friday, as the team announced forward Gerald Wallace will be out indefinitely.

From the team’s official Twitter account:

Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe has more:

Wallace hasn’t exactly lit it up for the Celtics this season, averaging just 5.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in 24.4 minutes per game. At his current pace, the 31-year-old would see his points per game decline for a fourth straight season.

That’s particularly rough for the Celtics, as they are paying him $10,105,855 this season, according to ESPN, and he still has three years remaining on his contract. In fact, Bill Simmons of Grantland named Wallace’s contract as the second-worst in the NBA, behind only Amar’e Stoudemire.

ESPN Boston has more on how the Celtics wound up with his contract, and what they might do with it in the future:

The Celtics took on Wallace’s deal in order to facilitate the summer blockbuster that delivered three first-round picks from the Brooklyn Nets. The question now is whether the Celtics are content to ride out Wallace’s deal, or if they’d take measures to shed his cap clog sooner (would Boston use that stockpile of draft picks to entice another team to take on the bad deal?) 

At one point in his career, Wallace was a steady producer. From 2004 to 2012, he averaged double-digit points every season. His best season came in 2010-11 for the Charlotte Bobcats, when he averaged 18.2 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.

But with the Celtics in rebuilding move, it would hardly be shocking if they looked to move his contract. They have two first-round picks this summer (three if the Philadelphia 76ers aren’t in the lottery, which they will be), two in 2015 (three if the Sixers aren’t in the lottery) and two in 2016.

If the Celtics are willing to part with any of those picks, they may be able to part with Wallace’s big contract as well. We may not see Wallace in a Celtics jersey again.

 

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Brandon Ashley Injury: Updates on Arizona Forward’s Foot and Return

If the No. 2 Arizona Wildcats are to stave off an upset of the Cal Golden Bears on Saturday, Feb. 1, they may have to do so without their second-leading scorer. Brandon Ashley left the game with a foot injury.

Myron Medcalf of ESPN.com reported the sophomore forward returned to the bench after going to the locker room, but he had ice on his right foot:

Antonio Gonzalez of the Associated Press reported that Ashley’s chances of returning to the game looked bleak as his foot was completely wrapped in ice:

It was later reported that he would be out for the rest of the game, per CollegeBasketballTalk’s Raphielle Johnson:

Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star reported that the sophomore had crutches and a boot on his foot. There’s no information at the moment on how bad the injury is:

Ashley is averaging 12.0 points and 6.0 rebounds a game. He’s played a big part on a Wildcats team that was 21-0 heading into Friday night.

It will be difficult for Arizona to maintain that unbeaten record if Ashley is forced to miss an extended period of time.

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Pau Gasol Injury: Updates on Lakers Forward’s Groin and Return

The Los Angeles Lakers may have a hard time getting sympathy from other squads around the NBA with all those banners hanging in the Staples Center, but they cannot catch a break in the 2013-14 season.

Pau Gasol, who has been the one consistent bright spot this year for Los Angeles, will be getting an MRI per Serena Winters of Lakers Nation:

Kevin Ding, who is the Lakers and NBA national columnist at Bleacher Report, points out that there really isn’t just one specific moment that Gasol can trace the injury back to:

If Gasol’s quote to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com is any indication, Los Angeles could be without its big man for a while:

Gasol played in the Jan. 31 game against the Charlotte Bobcats and was his usual productive self with 24 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. On the season, Gasol is posting nightly averages of 16.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.44 blocks on a Lakers squad that is ravaged by injuries.

Considering the next-to-zero playoff chances the Lakers have at this point, it would probably be best for both Gasol and the organization that he takes as much time as needed to heal the injury.

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