7:27pm: Nwaba underwent surgery Friday afternoon, according to a team press release.
7:45am: Nets swingman David Nwaba suffered a torn right Achilles tendon during Thursday’s loss in San Antonio, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), Nwaba will undergo surgery on Friday to repair the tear.
While neither Charania nor Haynes offers a timeline for Nwaba’s recovery, it seems safe to assume he’ll miss the rest of the 2019/20 season. There’s also no guarantee he’ll be ready to go by opening night next fall, given how long it usually takes players to recover from Achilles tears.
“I just wish him the speediest recovery,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said after the game, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “There’s no guy on the team who does things more perfectly in terms of preparing for a game, preparing for a season. You just feel ill when you think about it.
It’s a tough blow for Nwaba, who had recently established himself as a regular contributor for Brooklyn. In the club’s first 19 games, he only appeared in 11 and averaged just 10.8 minutes per contest. Since then though, he had appeared in all nine games and never played fewer than 14 minutes during that stretch.
While the 26-year-old had been averaging a career-low 5.2 PPG, his shooting percentages were very good (.521 FG%, .429 3PT%) and he provided the Nets with strong perimeter defense.
With Nwaba out, Lewis wonders if the Nets will turn back to Iman Shumpert, who was recently waived due to a roster crunch but would provide a similar skill set. To re-sign Shumpert, Brooklyn would likely have to trade or waive Nwaba or another player to open up a spot on the 15-man roster.
Nwaba’s contract includes a July 7, 2020 trigger date for his non-guaranteed $1.82MM salary for the 2020/21 season, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). Even if the Nets waive him before that date, they’d be responsible for paying his ’20/21 salary until he’s fully healthy and able to return to the court.
The Nets are now eligible to apply for a disabled player exception (and have done so), but since Nwaba was on a minimum-salary deal, the value of such an exception would be limited to just $839K.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.