The Portland Trail Blazers don’t seem all that keen on pushing for the playoffs.
After entering the All-Star break on a stunning 4-0 surge, the Blazers announced on Wednesday that starting center Jusuf Nurkic will miss at least four weeks due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic will be out at least four weeks with left foot plantar fasciitis, the team announced today. Nurkic has played through symptoms of plantar fasciitis since September. He will continue his treatment and recovery program and will be reevaluated in four weeks.
Nurkic has played some of the best basketball of his career since the New Year, remaining a defensive bellwether for Portland while shouldering more offensive responsibilities with Damian Lillard sidelined.
He’s averaging 17.4 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game on average efficiency over the last 24 games, emerging as an offensive fulcrum while scoring on the block and creating good looks for his teammates via double-teams. Portland’s 111.2 offensive rating with Nurkic on the floor during that timeframe dips all the way to 102.9 when he’s on the bench, per NBA.com/stats, evidence of Nurkic’s strides as a self-creator and pick-and-roll dive man.
The Blazers, 25-34, are back in tenth-place in the Western Conference after their pre-All-Star surge, surpassing C.J. McCollum and the New Orleans Pelicans in the standings. Don’t count on them holding onto the final spot in the play-in tournament by season’s end, though, a safe assumption even before news of Nurkic’s injury.
Lillard cast more doubt on the possibility of his return this season during a recent appearance on The Draymond Green Show, and Portland owes its 2022 first-round pick to the Chicago Bulls if it falls outside the lottery.
The remainder of 2021-22 could still prove crucial for the Blazers’ long-term plans. Either way, the powers that be have clearly decided that winning games isn’t Portland’s utmost priority, and rightfully so.