Immediately following Monday’s MLK Jr. matinee matchup between the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs, it seemed like good news was on the horizon on the CJ McCollum injury front.
Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said McCollum would be re-evaluated in one week after suffering a left foot sprain. His teammate, Damian Lillard also mentioned that McCollum seemed in good spirits and didn’t seem to be too worried about the injury.
And then the news hit late Monday night-- McCollum has suffered a hairline foot fracture and will be out for at least a month.
So, why was there a change in prognosis? Or how was the hairline fracture missed in the imaging?
Tuesday, McCollum explained how this particular foot injury is not common, and the fracture will only show up on an MRI, not an x-ray or CT scan.
Following the Trail Blazers practice and after McCollum received treatment on his left foot, he spoke to the media and says he doesn’t want anyone to feel bad for him.
The 28-year-old has broken his foot twice, once in college and then again during his rookie training camp with Portland before this most recent foot injury.
But he says this one “is completely different.”
And fortunately for McCollum and the Blazers, surgery is not required this time.
McCollum explained, “The severity of it is different. It doesn't require surgery. It’s a different part of the foot. A Jones fracture is what I had previously – it’s a very common sports injury. This injury that I have [now] is very unique because of how I got it -- it’s not a contact injury, it’s not a direct impact to the foot.”
The eight-year veteran is currently wearing a walking boot and will be evaluated in four weeks. He says he expects to take off the boot when that four-week mark hits, but he will have to see how he’s feeling at that point.
McCollum does not have any pain in his foot when he is sitting down and there is no swelling.
The type of injury as McCollum described it is called an “avulsion fracture,” in “the middle of the foot.”
Per Foot Health Facts, “In an avulsion fracture, a small piece of bone is pulled off the main portion of the bone by a tendon or ligament. This type of fracture is the result of an injury in which the ankle rolls. Avulsion fractures are often overlooked when they occur with an ankle sprain."
Since this type of injury doesn’t happen often, there’s not a lot of research to go off of, thus McCollum doesn’t have a good idea of when he will return.
But resting the foot and making sure the ligaments get proper treatment and time to heal will be key.
It was just over four minutes into the first quarter of last Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, when McCollum suffered the injury after taking contact with Clint Capella at the rim. McCollum finished the half, scoring 16 points, but was ruled out for the game shortly after halftime.
He was off to the best start of his career, averaging 26.7 points and 5.0 assists while shooting 44.1% from three before suffering the foot injury.
McCollum, as always, is keeping a positive outlook though.
“This is one of those situations where it’s not much I could’ve done. Maybe if I had done a left handed lay-up, he wouldn’t have fell on top of me,” McCollum grinned. “But it is what it is. I think I’m at the point in my life where -- you can control what you can control. I’m not going to feel sorry for myself.”
And as McCollum noted injuries are part of the business, adding “there’s no training for a seven-footer landing on your foot.”
But again, McCollum put things in perspective and could help Trail Blazers fans who are struggling with the idea of McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture) and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture) all out for an extended period of time.
“This is something that I can overcome with some time and some rest,” McCollum said. “It’s tough for me. It’s tough for our team. We already lost some players to injuries so it’s not ideal, but life’s never really ideal.”