The Trail Blazers will be without two of their most important players for an extended period.
Portland’s depth took another hit after guard CJ McCollum and center Jusuf Nurkic both suffered injuries in January games. The Trail Blazers, already facing the loss of Zach Collins after undergoing ankle surgery in late December, must now lean even more on Damian Lillard and find a way to avoid a significant drop in the Western Conference standings.
What’s next for the Portland stars? Here’s everything we know about McCollum and Nurkic, and the latest news on when they might return to court.
What is CJ McCollum’s injury?
McCollum left a Jan. 16 game against the Hawks with what the Trail Blazers initially called a sprained left foot. In the first quarter of that contest, Atlanta center Clint Capela jumped up to block McCollum’s shot attempt at the rim and landed directly on his left foot.
Here’s the piece CJ McCollum got his foot walked on by Clint Capela …
The Blazer has officially announced that he has a sprained left foot and will not return. pic.twitter.com/Aoflx48YcY
– NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) January 17, 2021
Further testing revealed McCollum had suffered a small fracture in the left foot and a sprain in the middle of the foot.
“Bad timing, it’s terrible timing,” McCollum said of the injury. “I really can’t do anything about it. I work hard to take care of myself. I spend a lot of time on it. I put a lot of effort into my body. This is one of the situations where I couldn’t have much. Maybe if I had done a left-handed layup it wouldn’t have fallen on me, but that’s what it is.
“I think I’m at the point in my life where, control what you can control. I’m not going to complain about myself. I’m living a good life. I’m always going to live a good life. That’s something. which I can overcome with a little time and rest. “
What is Jusuf Nurkic’s injury?
Nurkic left a Jan. 14 game against the Pacers with a broken right wrist. In the third quarter of this contest, Nurkic hit a Malcolm Brogdon while driving, then immediately grabbed his wrist. He returned to the locker room at the next break and did not return.
“We will always be there for [Nurkic]. We will always show him our support, ”said Lillard. But we have to give him his space and let him take it. It is a difficult thing. It comes with what we do and it can happen anytime. I think it’s the best thing to do and how we should manage it. “
How long will CJ McCollum be out?
Portland announced on January 19 that McCollum would be reassessed in four weeks. If he stays on that timeline, McCollum will miss at least 16 games, but the 29-year-old remains optimistic about his future.
“I’m battle tested, man. I’m good,” McCollum said. “I have been through a lot in my life. I am in a good stage in life. Mentally, I am at peace.”
“In the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy what comes with this life. I will appreciate the struggle of some of the things that we take for granted… some of the things that we don’t realize are important to us that now you can’t necessarily do when things go like this. – @CJMcCollum pic.twitter.com/2Lhjs1Lhfm
– Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) January 19, 2021
How long will Jusuf Nurkic be away?
Portland announced on January 19 that Nurkic had undergone wrist surgery and reassessed in six weeks. If he stays on that timeline, Nurkic will miss at least 23 games. Lillard expects backup big man Harry Giles to play a much bigger role with Nurkic sidelined.
“There will be a huge opportunity for [Giles], and I think he’s prepared for it, ”Lillard said. Mentally, I think he’s a very confident young player. Every morning when I come into the establishment, he is on one of the baskets working on his game, sweaty. … He went to the gym. He prepared himself whenever the opportunity presented itself.
“I think now it’s here, and I think he’ll be ready for it. We will need him to be.
The Blazers will try, at least in the short term, to fill the void left by the injury to Jusuf Nurkic by the committee.
Enes Kanter and Harry Giles are already in #RipCity.
Damian Lillard says Giles has a huge opportunity and “he’s prepared for it”. pic.twitter.com/oMrXBfObrt
– AJ McCord (@AJ_McCord) January 15, 2021
CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic statistics for the 2020-21 season
|84.4||Free throw %||55.6|