The Spurs received some very bad news on Monday, as an MRI on Dejounte Murray‘s injured right knee revealed a torn ACL, the team announced in a press release. According to the club, a timeline for Murray’s return will be determined at a later date. However, he seems likely to miss the 2018/19 season, as head coach Gregg Popovich acknowledged today (Twitter link via Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News).
The injury, which occurred during Sunday’s preseason game against the Rockets, is a massive blow for the Spurs. The 22-year-old took over point guard starting duties from Tony Parker last season, and was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team. With Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Kawhi Leonard no longer members of the Spurs, Murray was being counted on to play a key role at both ends of the court for San Antonio in 2018/19.
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With Murray sidelined, the Spurs figure to lean more heavily on Patty Mills and Derrick White at the point. DeMar DeRozan also figures to assume some ball-handling duties on offense, but none of those players will provide the sort of elite perimeter defense that Murray did.
It has been a rough month so far for the Spurs, who announced over the weekend that first-round pick Lonnie Walker sustained a right medial meniscus tear. Walker, who was scheduled to undergo surgery to repair that injury today, is expected to miss approximately six to eight weeks.
With upwards of a dozen Western Conference teams set to compete for playoff spots in 2018/19, the Spurs have little margin for error as they look to extend their 21-year postseason streak. Murray’s absence will make it even more challenging to secure a top-eight spot in the West.