NBA injury updates: Mavs’ Kristaps Porzingis sidelined with sprained wrist; Nets’ Kevin Durant nears return

Aside from COVID-19 having an impact on player availability on a night-to-night basis in the NBA this season, injuries have also been piling up across the league. The rise in injuries may be stemming from a more condensed schedule and shortened offseason due to the pandemic as the league tries returning to its traditional schedule for the 2021-22 campaign. While there haven’t been as many season-ending injuries as we’ve seen in the past, it always feels like a star player is missing two or three weeks due to a nagging injury suffered in a game or practice. 

Unfortunately, injuries are a part of the game, and this season has seen its fair share of them. To keep you updated, here’s a running list of all the major injuries in the NBA, and how they are affecting teams and players moving forward. To see every team’s current injury situation, click here.

Dallas Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis has been dealing with a sprained wrist for weeks, but it caused him to miss Monday’s game against the Utah Jazz. Afterward, Rick Carlisle said the injury could cause their star to miss multiple games. “We hope it’s not serious,” the Mavs coach said. He said he expects to know more about his status ahead of their next game, which is Wednesday against the Houston Rockets.

Kevin Durant will be sidelined for the Nets’ game Monday against the Knicks, but Steve Nash still expects him to be back this week, which is great news for the Nets, and bad news for everyone else in the league. Brooklyn hasn’t necessarily needed Durant’s ridiculous offensive production in his absence, going 17-4 in the time he’s been sidelined with a hamstring strain. But getting him back healthy is paramount to this team’s championship aspirations. Brooklyn is absolutely loaded with talent, from James Harden and Kyrie Irving to recent additions in Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. Getting Durant back is just the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake for a team that is already viewed as the favorites to win it all this season.

Gordon Hayward suffered a right foot sprain against the Indiana Pacers on April 2, and he will be sidelined for at least four weeks due to the injury. The injury occurred in the second quarter of the contest against the Pacers when Hayward drove at center Myles Turner. He stepped on Turner’s foot and immediately crumpled to the floor. The loss of Hayward is a big blow to the Hornets, who are in the midst of a tight battle for playoff positioning in the East and are already without rookie LaMelo Ball for the foreseeable future due to a fractured wrist. 

LeBron James suffered a high-ankle sprain on March 20 when he tried to corral a loose ball, which led to Hawks forward Solomon Hill falling on top of his right ankle. It’s been reported that James could miss up to a month of action, which is a monumental blow for a Lakers team that is teetering with falling further down the standings in the Western Conference. It’s obvious LeBron is at the center of everything the Lakers do, so losing him for a significant amount of time isn’t ideal. In the six games he’s been out already, L.A. has gone 2-4, and it doesn’t look like it’ll get much better than that with the reigning Finals MVP sidelined.

The Lakers were already down a star player when LeBron went down as Anthony Davis has been sidelined since Feb. 14 with a calf strain. However, the Lakers announced last week that he’s been cleared to advance his on-court work, though that doesn’t mean a return is imminent. With Davis sidelined, the Lakers have sorely missed his presence in the frontcourt as both Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell have underwhelmed this season. It’s always a huge loss when you lose a player averaging 22 and eight a night, and it’s forced others on the team to try and fill that void, though it hasn’t been enough to produce positive results. L.A. did add Andre Drummond from the buyout market, which could have an impact on the team when Davis and LeBron both return. But until that happens, the Lakers will just have to weather through this storm.

When LaMelo Ball went down with a fractured wrist, it was a punch to the gut for a Hornets team that’s become the most exciting squad to watch in 2020-21. It was made even worse by the original announcement that he could miss the remainder of the season. However, after undergoing surgery, the team said he would be re-evaluated in four weeks to determine the next steps in his recovery process, leaving the door slightly ajar for a possible return this season. Luckily for Charlotte, its depth at the guard position with Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham has carried this team to a 4-2 record in Ball’s absence. It also helps that Gordon Hayward is putting up his best numbers since his last season in Utah, helping the Hornets stay afloat in a tight playoff race in the East. Charlotte currently holds the fourth seed, and although there’s still plenty of basketball left for that to change, this team has the depth to maintain in the 4-7 range in the East while Ball is out. If the front-runner for Rookie of the Year is able to return in time for the playoffs, Charlotte could surprise a top seed in the first round.

After putting up 31 points in a win over the Timberwolves on March 22, it was reported after the game that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would miss time due to plantar fasciitis. It’s unclear exactly how much time that could end up being, but Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said last week that he would miss “significant time” with the injury. Plantar fasciitis is a fickle injury, and has kept players out for more time than expected in the past. A recent example is Domantas Sabonis, who didn’t play in the Orlando bubble at all due to the same injury. OKC is in the midst of a rebuilding year, and SGA is seen as the centerpiece of this young franchise so you can expect the Thunder will be incredibly cautious with his return.

The Knicks are having their most successful season in a decade, but suffered a setback when Mitchell Robinson went down with a fractured foot on March 27. Robinson had surgery to repair his foot, but no timetable has been given on his return. He could potentially even be done for the season. This is just the latest setback for to the big man, who recently came back from a broken hand this season, and has had a list of other injuries which have limited him to just 66 games in his first three seasons in the league. For the Knicks, losing the rim protection Robinson provides is a huge blow as they try to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. New York will have to lean heavily on Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson in Robinson’s absence and hope that will be enough for the time being. 

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