NBA injury report: Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard updates, return timeline for other injured stars

The Basketball Gods have not been kind lately, as far as injuries are concerned. The list of star players who have missed all or significant parts of this season — headlined by Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving — is long, and their absence at the All-Star Game last weekend was notable.

Irving, by the way, could miss the remainder of the season due to the same shoulder issue that kept him out of the lineup from mid-November until mid-January. After a trip to another specialist, he’s reportedly undergoing surgery, continuing a strange season for him and the Nets.

If you’re looking for every single injury in the league, so you know who’s going to be in the lineup each night, we already have you covered. This page will not be as exhaustive, but it will feature the most important injuries in the league, along with a quick analysis of them. 

After missing 26 games with a shoulder injury, Irving returned last month, but was still feeling discomfort. Now, after a trip to another specialist, he’s undergoing surgery on the shoulder and is expected to miss the remainder of the season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. The Nets have gone 8-12 with Irving in the lineup and are 25-28 overall, which is good enough for seventh place in the top-heavy Eastern Conference. Even with Durant sidelined, Brooklyn had hoped to make progress this season and find out how guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert fit next to Irving. Instead, everything about the 2019-20 Nets has felt provisional, and it looks like Dinwiddie and LeVert will remain the Nets’ primary playmakers for the time being. 

The Warriors have been the worst team in the NBA by record (and second-worst by net rating) due to injuries, but that does not mean Curry will be on the shelf all season. He is reportedly targeting an early March return, so they will presumably not rank 30th in offense for the last six weeks of the season. With his targeted return date approaching, Curry practiced with Golden State on Tuesday, but he didn’t scrimmage and everybody was calling him Tom Brady because no one was supposed to touch him. Curry will obviously need to scrimmage with contact in the next couple of weeks if he is going to return on schedule.  

Lillard performed as Dame D.O.L.L.A. at All-Star Weekend, but had to pull out of the 3-Point Contest and Sunday’s showcase. He had been on a rampage before leaving the Blazers’ game against Memphis on Feb. 12 with a groin strain, which is expected to keep him out for the next three to four games. When Lillard has been off the court this season, Portland has been outscored by 9.1 points per 100 possessions, a mark even lower than the Cavaliers’ league-worst net rating. Given that the Blazers are four games behind the eighth-place Grizzlies in the playoff race, they likely cannot afford to be without him for any significant stretch of time. 

Gordon said Tuesday that his injured shin “feels a lot better,” but he will have to see how he feels after two days of practice before determining whether or not he will play on Thursday. He left Houston’s blowout loss in Phoenix on Feb. 7 after playing just nine minutes and missed its two games leading up to the break. If the Rockets are going to be the best version of themselves, they need him to get healthy and increase his efficiency to its normal level.

Capela was hurt when the Hawks traded for him, and he has yet to make his debut with the team. He didn’t practice on Tuesday and isn’t expected to play in their first post-All-Star break game on Thursday against Miami. When he is healthy, all eyes will be on his pick-and-roll chemistry with Trae Young and how John Collins functions next to him in the frontcourt. Dewayne Dedmon, recently reacquired from the Kings, will presumably continue to start until Capels is ready to go.   

The Bulls have been plagued by injuries all season long, and Markkanen has been one of the casualties. The sweet-shooting forward has been sidelined since the end of January after suffering a stress reaction in his right pelvis. This Friday will mark four weeks since he was given a four-to-six week timeline, but coach Jim Boylen said Tuesday that he doesn’t know when Markkanen will return to practice.     

Porter has missed most of the season with a foot injury, but he practiced with the Bulls on Tuesday and said he’s “close” to 100 percent. He does not officially have a return date, but, given that Chicago lost six straight games before the break, this is the best news the team has had in a while.

Carter has been out for six weeks, and his injury came with a four-to-six-week timetable. This means he’ll be back soon, but while he said he wants to play in Thursday’s game, his status is unclear. Carter also said that he wouldn’t rush anything.   

Dunn’s All-Defense-caliber season was interrupted when he sprained his MCL early in the Bulls’ game against the Nets on Jan. 31. Per the Bulls’ announcement on Wednesday, Dunn will be reevaluated in four-to-six weeks. According to NBC Sports’ K.C. Johnson, he might end up missing the rest of the season.

It took only a week for Holmes to earn a starting role in Sacramento, and his emergence as a dependable, productive starting center was the team’s best story until he injured his shoulder on Jan. 6. I’m not sure if this counts as an announcement that he will be back in the lineup this week, but at a live podcast on All-Star weekend Holmes told NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh that he’s “definitely ready to get back out there.”

Leonard hurt his ankle against the Sixers on Feb. 3, and he did not join the Heat when they left for their five-game West Coast road trip before the break. Coach Erik Spoelstra said he will miss Thursday’s game in Atlanta on Thursday, and he could be out longer than that. When he returns, Spoelstra’s coaching staff will have a decision to make — Leonard has started every game he’s played in this season, but Miami could keep Derrick Jones Jr. in that role or give newcomer Jae Crowder a shot.

Bagley has played in only 13 games this season because of a broken thumb and a foot sprain, and this foot sprain is proving to be a persistent problem. Kings fans are frustrated with the team’s lack of transparency, but the team would probably argue that the injury has been confusing for everyone involved. He might not even return this season, according to GM Vlade Divac and Bagley himself.

The Pistons’ longest-tenured player — seriously! — could be back as soon as Thursday, per MLive, and they hope he can pick up where he left off on a team that is clearly rebuilding. Before the injury, Kennard was having the best season of his career, increasing his efficiency while taking on a slightly larger playmaking role and averaging a full 10 minutes more than he did in Year 2.  

It has been obvious for a while that Isaac’s initial 8-10 week timeline might have been optimistic: The Magic reportedly applied for a disabled player exception for him, signaling that they project him to miss the remainder of the season. Earlier this month, Magic president Jeff Weltman confirmed that Isaac is out for the year in a radio interview.  This is a shame: He was on his way to an All-Defensive Team selection, and he showed real growth as an offensive player, too. 

Feb. 7 update: The Heat were a less versatile defensive team without Winslow, with staggering on/off numbers, but now rather than hoping that his return will rejuvenate them on that end, they are counting on Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill doing that. He hasn’t been a Grizzly long enough for his new team to have issued an update, but he has played in one game in the last two months and was not expected to join the Heat on their pre-All-Star road trip.

IIIt seems like the Raptors aren’t allowed to have a fully healthy roster for more than two minutes, so Powell, in the midst of a career season, broke his hand late in their game against the Pistons on Jan. 31. He had previously missed 11 games with a shoulder injury. Toronto tends to deal with injuries well, though, and it has won a franchise-record 15 straight games. Powell is out indefinitely. 

Jan. 24 update: Finally, some good injury-related news for Portland: Last week, Nurkic participated fully in practice for the first time since he broke his leg. This does not, however, mean that he is on the verge of making his return: He reportedly will be out until after the All-Star break. To say the Blazers have missed him this season would be a massive understatement. 

Powell is not a household name, but he has been a mainstay in Dallas’ starting lineup this season because he fits so well with Luka Doncic. Maxi Kleber will be the recipient of most of Doncic’s lobs in his absence, and Kristaps Porzingis started at center on Thursday in Portland. 

Durant has been a bit more visible in Brooklyn lately, getting shots up with media around, but the team’s stance has not changed: He is out for the season. If the Nets are lucky, the rest of the roster will be healthy enough over the next few months to establish some momentum going into next season and allow the front office to make educated decisions about what the team should look like when Durant returns.

Thompson somehow keeps making news — a college jersey retirement here, words of encouragement on the bench there — but he is still expected to miss the entire season. 

The backup center is expected to be out 2-4 weeks with a foot injury suffered on Jan. 20 against the Timberwolves. Plumlee is not the most high-profile guy on Denver’s injury report, but his passing and verticality at the rim will be missed, especially with the Nuggets battling for playoff positioning. 

The Magic were granted a disabled player exception for Aminu, who tore his meniscus in late November and had surgery in January. Aminu was having the worst offensive season of his career before the injury, but he fit Orlando’s defensive identity. 

Another theoretical breakout candidate for a team that expected to be way better than it is, Collins hurt his shoulder three games into the season and is now hoping to come back in March. His absence is one of the reasons Portland has been awful defensively, and perhaps the main reason why Carmelo Anthony is now on the roster. 

Hood had a lot on his shoulders this season, as Portland let both of its starting forwards walk in free agency and promoted Hood on a two-year deal. The devastating Achilles rupture took place on Dec. 6, ending a season in which he was one of the team’s few bright spots — Hood shot a totally unsustainable but awesome 49.3 percent from deep in 21 games. Kent Bazemore replaced him in the starting five, but has since been traded to the Kings for Trevor Ariza, wh. 

The center has been out since early December, leaving Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter to hold the fort. He’s running again, per Celtics coach Brad Stevens, but he’s not expected back until after the All-Star break. 

Largely out of sight and out of mind this season, Wall played five-on-five with Amar’e Stoudemire (!) on Wednesday and has taken part in controlled 4-on-4 scrimmages in practice. He is still considered out for the season, having undergone surgery on his ruptured Achilles last February. 

The Pistons were granted a disabled player exception for Griffin on Wednesday, a formality after he had knee surgery on Jan. 7. This is the same knee that required surgery at the end of last season, the one that probably should have kept him out of Detroit’s entire first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. (He played in Games 3 and 4 of the sweep.) Griffin was not even close to his normal self in the 18 games he played this season, and Detroit appears poised to start a full-blown rebuild in between now and the trade deadline.  

Cousins has had a horrific run of three serious knee injuries in the last two calendar years. In August he tore his ACL, which likely ended his season before it began. Los Angeles responded by signing Dwight Howard, whose career had hit a low point, and Howard has rewarded the team with his best production in years thanks to improved conditioning and a commitment to playing a supporting role. Coach Frank Vogel has repeatedly said that Cousins could come back late in the season, which feels, um, optimistic. 

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