Rockets first-round pick Sam Dekker will have back surgery Friday, multiple sources told Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, and one source told him that Dekker is expected to miss the next three months. The small forward has played only six total minutes so far this season, as I noted Tuesday in my look at how this year’s first-rounders are faring, and he hadn’t made an appearance since Houston’s second game of the season, as Goodman points out. Still, the loss of this year’s 18th overall pick for a significant amount of time compounds the issues for the 4-7 Rockets.
Dekker’s ailing back forced him to miss summer league, as Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com tweets, and it bothered him before the draft while he was in college at Wisconsin, a source told Goodman. That was in spite of a late-season run last spring that saw his draft stock surge. He averaged 5.0 points and 2.6 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game across eight preseason appearances, but he shot just 26.1% from 3-point range and 33.3% from the floor overall, and he seemed a ways off from significant regular season playing time, as Watkins explained to us in a recent edition of The Beat.
The Rockets, with only 14 players, have an open roster spot, though they’re only about $1.5MM shy of the $88.74MM hard cap they triggered when they signed Montrezl Harrell. Donatas Motiejunas is also still recovering from back surgery he had last spring, and Patrick Beverley is questionable for tonight’s game with an ankle injury, but the team doesn’t have the injury problems necessary to qualify for a hardship provision of a 16th roster spot. Dekker’s injury isn’t thought to be season-ending, so they aren’t eligible for a disabled player exception, either.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale hasn’t liked what he’s seen of his team’s effort and defense so far, and he’s thinking about moving point guard Ty Lawson to the bench, as Watkins detailed earlier this week. The team held a players-only meeting Tuesday, though Dwight Howard and James Harden struck an optimistic tone in its wake, Watkins also relayed.
Do you think Dekker will pan out in the NBA? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.