NBA injury updates: James Harden still ‘a ways to go’ before Nets return; Rockets’ John Wall done for season

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. 

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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.

James Harden suffered a strained hamstring in a game against the Houston Rockets on March 31. He missed two games and then returned for an April 5 battle against the New York Knicks, during which he unfortunately re-aggravated the injury. Harden hasn’t played since then, and it’s unclear when he’ll be back in the lineup. Nets head coach Steve Nash said on Tuesday night that Harden has “a ways to go,” and is unsure if he’ll be back or not before the playoffs.

John Wall will miss the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The Houston Rockets point guard suffered a Grade 2 strain, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Wall, who missed the entire 2019-20 season due to a torn Achilles tendon, played only 40 games this season, his first with the Houston Rockets. In that time, he averaged over 20 points per game on efficiency only slightly worse than he had posted when healthy with the Washington Wizards.

Trae Young has been one of the NBA’s more durable superstars this season. He has missed only five games, but the brutal nature of this condensed season may have just caught up to him. During the third quarter of Atlanta’s game against the New York Knicks, Young suffering what the team has described as a left ankle sprain and was ruled out of the remainder of the game shortly thereafter.  Young suffered what the team has described as a left ankle sprain and was ruled out of the remainder of the game shortly thereafter. On Thursday, the results of an MRI were encouraging. The Hawks star has a Grade 2 lateral sprain to his ankle, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and will be able to return once swelling and discomfort go down. Considering the pain Young appeared to be in, the Hawks couldn’t have asked for better news. 

The Raptors announced Friday that Chris Boucher has suffered what the team has determined to be a sprained MCL in his left knee. The injury occurred in the fourth quarter of their victory over the Nets on Wednesday. Boucher will be sidelined until the team leaves for their upcoming road trip and his condition will be updated at that time.

Deni Avdija hasn’t had an easy rookie season for the Washington Wizards. Sharing the floor with Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal has limited his shot attempts, his playing time has been inconsistent, and losing is often a new experience for top young players. But things hit a new low on Wednesday when Avdija suffered what the team has described as a right ankle injury and had to leave the floor in a wheelchair. 

An X-Ray revealed that Avdija suffered a hairline fracture and will now be out for the remainder of the season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He is not expected to need surgery, though, so there is at least that silver lining for the rookie. 

 The Los Angeles Clippers have been playing some of their best basketball lately. In their past 17 games, they have a 14-3 record and seem to be peaking right as the playoffs approach. Unfortunately, for the time being, they’ll have to attempt to keep their momentum going without their best player. Kawhi Leonard will miss the next week dealing with foot soreness, and will be reevaluated from there. 

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. Now, it turns out a return may indeed be in the cards. Ball has had his cast removed and could return to the court in 7-10 days. That would be a huge boost for the Hornets, as they continue to battle for playoff position down the stretch. 

Turner has dealt with a few injuries this season, and the latest is a partially torn plantar plate in his toe. On Monday, the Pacers announced that the big man will be out indefinitely as they assess the injury and treatment options. At this point, it’s still unclear if he’ll need surgery to fix the problem. Either way, it seems he’s headed for another lengthy stint on the sidelines, which is a huge blow for Indiana. They’ve been through a miserable season in regards to injuries, and are currently in a battle just to remain in the play-in tournament spots at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. 

Utah Jazz star guard Donovan Mitchell suffered an ankle sprain against the Indiana Pacers on Friday afternoon. X-rays on the injury were negative, and an MRI on the ankle revealed no structural damage, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. This is obviously good news for both Mitchell and the Jazz, because when the injury initially happened it looked like it could be something more serious. Still, Mitchell is expected to miss several games before he’s cleared to return to game action. 

After returning to the lineup on Monday night from a four-game absence, Jamal Murray suffered a torn ACL in his left knee, the Denver Nuggets announced Tuesday. The star guard suffered the non-contact injury in the fourth quarter against the Warriors when he attacked the basket, but as soon as he tried to launch off his leg, he crumpled to the floor and looked to be in serious pain. He rejected a wheelchair and limped off the floor with help. Losing Murray will be a huge blow for the Nuggets heading into the final stretch of the season. 

 James Wiseman’s season is officially over. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft tore the meniscus in his right knee during a recent game against the Houston Rockets, and as a result, he has been ruled out for the remainder of the season. The Golden State Warriors released a statement Thursday confirming that fact and revealing that Wiseman’s surgery was a success. 

Victor Oladipo injured his knee during the Heat’s game against the Lakers on Thursday, where he went up for a dunk and landed awkwardly. He hobbled to the locker and Miami shortly announced he wouldn’t return. Despite optimism afterward that he was “OK” and the injury might’ve been “a little scare” more than anything, Oladipo did not accompany the team on its next road trip. He’s been listed as having “right knee soreness,” but when asked if Oladipo would play again this season, head coach Erik Spoelstra declined to say, as the team is still analyzing his injury and determining just how much time he’ll miss. Initial X-rays of his knee after Thursday’s game came back negative, and he had an MRI the following day, but the Heat didn’t release the results. This is just the latest blow to Oladipo’s return after rupturing his quad in 2019 when he was still on the Pacers, as minor injuries here and there have halted his progression to get back to the All-Star level he was playing at prior to the injury.

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. He’s expected back in early May, though the team hasn’t provided any updates on James’ status or clear return date.

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. 

The Los Angeles Clippers will be without point guard Patrick Beverley for the foreseeable future as the veteran underwent surgery last week to repair a fractured fourth metacarpal bone in his left hand. Beverley will be reevaluated in 3-4 weeks, and there is currently no timetable for a return to action. In Beverley’s absence, the Clippers will turn to recently acquired Rajon Rondo and Reggie Jackson to take over the point guard duties. With the start of the playoffs about five weeks away, the Clippers are likely just hoping that Beverley will be good to go for postseason play. 

Beverley isn’t the only Clippers player dealing with an injury issue. Center Serge Ibaka has been sidelined since mid-March due to a back injury, and there is currently no return date set. Ibaka will miss the Clippers’ three-game road trip this week, so the absolute earliest he could return to game action would be against the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 18, but it’s not clear if he will be ready at that point. The Clippers have turned to the duo of Ivica Zubac and Patrick Patterson to hold down the center spot in Ibaka’s absence. The team also recently added veteran center DeMarcus Cousins on a 10-day contract. 

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