Rockets’ Landale Injures Ankle, Likely To Miss World Cup

New Rockets big man Jock Landale suffered a left ankle injury on Thursday while playing for the Australian national team in an exhibition game against South Sudan in Melbourne, reports Olgun Uluc of ESPN.

The severity of the injury isn’t yet known, but Australian head coach Brian Goorjian said after the game that he doesn’t expect Landale to be available for the World Cup, which tips off next week. According to Goorjian, the center will undergo an MRI on his ankle on Friday and won’t travel with the team to Japan (Twitter link via Uluc).

It’s an unfortunate turn of events for Landale, who enjoyed a mini-breakout season in 2022/23 in Phoenix. He appeared in 69 regular season games for the Suns, averaging 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 14.2 minutes per night, then posted 6.5 PPG and 4.3 RPG on 66.7% shooting in six contests (17.6 MPG) vs. Denver in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Landale’s strong showing as a reserve center behind Deandre Ayton earned him a four-year, $32MM offer from the Rockets in free agency. Only the first year of that contract is guaranteed, but it will still assure the 27-year-old of an $8MM salary in 2023/24 after he made the minimum in his first two NBA seasons.

Landale’s injury should open the door for Jack White of the Thunder to be part of Australia’s 12-man World Cup roster, as Uluc tweets. White had previously looked likely to be the odd man out of the 13-man group that the Boomers had been using in their pre-World Cup exhibitions.

With about a month-and-a-half until the Rockets’ training camp opens, there’s still plenty of time for Landale to recover in time to be available for the start of the regular season as long as the injury isn’t too significant. We should know more after he undergoes his MRI.

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