2:55pm: Nurkic underwent surgery to repair his compound fractures today, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. While Nurkic has been ruled out indefinitely, the good news is that there was no nerve or muscle damage in his leg, league sources tell Charania.
8:57am: Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic suffered compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula last night, putting him out of action for the rest of the season and probably well into next season, writes Joe Freeman of The Oregonian.
The injury occurred in the second overtime of a win over the Nets as Nurkic landed on several players after jumping for a rebound. The crowd went silent before chanting Nurkic’s name in a show of support. Teammates turned away because of the gruesome nature of the injury.
“It made me sick to my stomach,” Damian Lillard said.
After a long examination by trainers and team doctors, Nurkic received a huge ovation as he was carried off on a stretcher. Coach Terry Stotts called the injury “devastating” as it casts a shadow over the rest of the season for a Portland team that clinched a playoff spot with the victory.
“It’s terrible,” Zach Collins said. “Obviously you never want to see that happen, especially with your own teammate that you go to war with every night. Nurk, he’s been having a hell of a season. He had an amazing game tonight. And for it to end like that for him, it’s just tough. All we can do is be there for him and hope he’s in as little pain as possible and knows that we’ve got his back.”
At age 24, Nurkic was putting together his best season, averaging career highs with 15.6 PPG and 10.4 RPG. He is signed for nearly $25MM over the next two seasons and has a non-guaranteed $12MM salary for 2021/22. His absence should create a greater role for Enes Kanter, who signed with Portland last month after reaching a buyout with the Knicks.
Players from around the NBA sent messages of support on social media last night, while the Trail Blazers struggled to deal with the impact of losing a beloved teammate and a vital part of their hopes for the postseason.
“I’m going to go home and pray for him because this is way bigger than basketball,” Kanter said. “We clinched a playoff spot and we’re not even celebrating. He was a big part of our family — not our team, our family — and I just don’t know what to say. It’s definitely tough.”