2. How does Portland manage its injury situation?
Nurkic has only played two minutes in February after injuring his calf. After he received an MRI, it was announced that he would be back sometime after the all-star break.
Simons suffered a Grade 2 ankle sprain after landing on Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma’s foot during the third quarter of Portland’s Valentine’s Day loss to Washington.
For reference, Justise Winslow was also diagnosed with a Grade 2 ankle sprain. He was injured on Dec. 21 and wasn’t expected back until late January. He still hasn’t returned, and it’s the final week of February.
Assuming Simons has a similar timetable as Winslow – about a month between injury and return – Ant wouldn’t hit the floor again until mid-March. If he returns in exactly a month, on March 14, he would have missed 10 games and there would be 14 left in the regular season.
If the Blazers are falling out of the play-in race by that point, the team will likely be extra careful with Simons.
There have been no updates on Nurk’s return – only the original “sometime after the all-star break.” But considering where Portland is in the standings and the way he’s played this year, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Blazers take their time bringing their starting center back.
Jerami Grant missed the last two games before the break in concussion protocol, as well.
Portland’s franchise strategy for the rest of the season will be abundantly clear based on how long the Blazers decide to keep three-fifths of their starting lineup on the shelf.