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Jusuf Nurkic Out Through All-Star Break With Left Calf Strain
The Trail Blazers will be without their starting center for at least the next seven games.
Has Jusuf Nurkic played his last game with the Trail Blazers?
It's possible. Likely, even.
The Blazers' longtime starting center has been battling through a left calf injury for a little over a week. He exited last Wednesday's win over the Jazz with calf tightness, missed Saturday's loss to Toronto, returned for Monday's win over Atlanta and exited shortly into Wednesday's win in Memphis. Now, the team announced on Friday morning that Nurkic underwent an MRI that revealed a left calf strain that will keep him out through the All-Star break.
The Blazers have seven games between now and the break. They have two more games on this road trip, tonight in Washington and Saturday in Chicago, and then five more at home: Monday against Milwaukee, Wednesday against Golden State, Friday against Oklahoma City, next Monday against the Lakers and next Tuesday against Washington.
For at least the first few of those games, Drew Eubanks will presumably start at center. But an important date looms within the pre-All-Star schedule: the trade deadline this coming Thursday.
While Nurkic has been on the block in years past, it's more likely this year than it's ever been that he will be moved between now and Thursday. There are a handful of teams around the league (Toronto and Charlotte are the two I've heard the most consistently, as well as a few others I'm less solid on) that have shown interest. Multiple times on the just-wrapped six-game homestand, head coach Chauncey Billups opted to close with Eubanks rather than Nurkic, which is telling.
The severity of Nurkic's calf strain is unknown, but the decision to shut him down through the All-Star break could be motivated in part by wanting to avoid further injury before the deadline.
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