5:51pm: Dozier suffered a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
6:48am: Nuggets wing PJ Dozier had to be carried off the court on Tuesday after landing awkwardly late in the first quarter of Denver’s loss to Portland. The team hasn’t yet provided an official update on what was diagnosed as a left knee injury, but there’s concern that Dozier’s season is in jeopardy, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).
Sources tell Wojnarowski that, after conducting initial imaging on Tuesday night, the Nuggets fear Dozier tore his left ACL. The injury will be evaluated further on Wednesday to determine the severity.
If today’s testing confirms that Dozier tore his ACL, it would be a brutal blow for both him and the team, which had relied on the 25-year-old as one of its go-to players off the bench. In 18 games so far this season, Dozier has averaged 5.4 PPG and 3.5 RPG in 18.9 minutes per contest.
The banged-up Nuggets are already dealing with a series of injuries to star players. Jamal Murray is recovering from an ACL tear of his own and will be out until the spring; Michael Porter Jr. is out indefinitely due to a nerve issue in his back; and Nikola Jokic has missed the team’s last three games due to a right wrist sprain.
As ESPN’s Bobby Marks observes (via Twitter), Dozier’s $1.91MM salary for 2021/22 isn’t yet fully guaranteed, but it would become guaranteed if he’s ruled out for the season. Denver could also apply for a disabled player exception in that scenario, though such an exception – which would be worth half of Dozier’s salary – would have little practical value.
A team can apply for a hardship exception, opening up a temporary 16th roster spot, if it has at least four players who have missed at least three games due to injury or illness and are expected to be sidelined for at least two more weeks. However, while Murray, Porter, and Dozier appear likely to be out for the long term, Jokic should be back as soon as Friday and it’s unclear if Bones Hyland (right ankle sprain) is at risk of missing multiple weeks.