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Blazers’ Skal Labissiere to be evaluated in 4 weeks after left knee injury

Skal Labissiere, Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers big man Skal Labissiere will be evaluated in four weeks after MRI results showed he has a left knee articular cartilage lesion, according to Joe Freeman of the Oregonian.

The 23-year-old injured his left knee just a few minutes into the Blazers’ game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 29, but the initial MRI results were inconclusive.

Labissiere had already been ruled out for the team’s five-game road trip that began on Jan. 1, but that absence is more prolonged due to the recent discovery of the articular cartilage lesion. Labissiere was averaging 5.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game.

This is yet another blow to the Blazers’ frontcourt. Portland are still without fellow bigs Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, relying instead on Carmelo Anthony to play heavy minutes as an undersized four-man.

The good news is Nurkic could be back in a matter of weeks, and probably no later than a month. Jason Quick of The Athletic reported Nurkic might be targeting a late-January return:

The Blazers still haven’t pinpointed any return date, but going off early estimates from Olshey, the best guess is that Nurkic will return anywhere from late January to mid-February.

In the meantime, both Maro Hezonja and Anthony Tolliver are likely to see increases in their minutes, and Anthony might have to extend himself a bit more. This could also be true of Hassan Whiteside.

Skal Labissiere may not have been the most productive player, but he gives the Blazers added depth as they wait for Nurkic and Collins to return. Now, Portland and head coach Terry Stotts will have to get creative as they look to stay in playoff position.