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With Jusuf Nurkic out, Trail Blazers look to Enes Kanter (again) and Harry Giles

Trail Blazers -

It was under the same basket at Moda Center.

But this time it was due to a fractured right wrist.  

Just minutes into the third quarter of Thursday night's contest against the Pacers, Nurkic swiped at the ball as Malcolm Brogdon drove to the hoop.  Nurkic still contested Myles Turner’s dunk attempt after Brogdon found Turner, despite being in noticeable pain.

The Blazers starting center was then seen holding his right wrist as he headed straight to the locker room at the next dead ball.

And that’s when all of Rip City was holding its breath.

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The Blazers later announced the news that nobody wanted to hear-- Nurkic had suffered a broken wrist.

 

[RELATED]: Rip City sends well wishes, speedy recovery to Jusuf Nurkic

Following the 111-87 blowout loss to Indiana, the sounds of disappointment and sadness for Nurkic were heard throughout the Trail Blazers’ postgame interviews.

You just feel bad for somebody having to go through that especially someone who has battled through injuries over the last few years.

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard

But even with all the disappointment, the Blazers still know that Nurkic would want them to focus on where the team goes from here.

The Blazers have already lost big man Zach Collins for the foreseeable future. Collins is out indefinitely and isnt expected to be back until late in the season as he rehabs his left ankle stress fracture.

Portland could potentially use an injury exemption now for Collins as Coach Stotts mentioned after Thursday's game.

Im going to sit down with Neil [Olshey] tomorrow and well talk about what options we have.

But Coach Stotts also explained that he will evaluate who will step in and start at center in the immediate future, saying that he will consider both Enes Kanter and Harry Giles.

And it could vary depending on matchups.

But as we know, Kanter has been in this same position already with the Blazers.

He helped fill the void when Nurkic went out with a broken left leg in March of 2019, which ended up being the year that the Blazers went to the Western Conference Finals.

That is something both the Blazers and Kanter can most likely lean on from the experience.

But as CJ McCollum put it: They have some good options.

 

Thankfully we’ve got two good options. Enes is already a proven player. He’s been in the league a long time. You know what you’re going to get from him. He’s a walking double-double and he’s a guy who is familiar with our system.

Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum

McCollum also discussed the upside of Giles saying, "he’s really talented, he’s athletic, he’s smart but most importantly – he works hard."

Lillard echoed the same sentiments about Giles’ work ethic.

We’ll see what route coach chooses to go, but I think Harry is someone who works hard. He’s a young player, super talented. There’s going to be a huge opportunity for him and I think he’s prepared for it.

Damian Lillard

“Mentally, I think he’s a super confident young player,” Lillard added. “Every morning when I come into the facility, he’s on one of the baskets working on his game, sweating. I see him putting the time in, so I think a lot of players in the league - as the season goes on - it’s hard to sustain that level of work when you’re not getting the opportunity so I think it’s right on time for him.”

As Lillard says it’s right on time for Giles to seize the opportunity.

At just 22 years of age and injury tested, Giles has already shown his upside in Portland with his energy and basketball IQ. 

For his career in 111 games played, Giles holds averages of 6.7 points and 3.9 rebounds. 

And as disappointing as it was to see Nurkic go out with another broken bone, the important thing to remember is that this Trail Blazers team has and will rally around Nurkic, and they will also figure out their next step in life without the big fella.

The Blazers have options this year.

Obviously, Enes has been big for us in the past, so he’ll have to step up, Harry will have to play, [we could play] some small ball -- we’ll do a lot of different stuff, but it’s going to be by committee.

CJ McCollum

That is for sure: It will be by committee to fill the role of the Bosnian Beast, especially at the rim.

Portland’s defense will need to be a big focus moving forward with no Nurkic.  

But at the moment, it’s still unclear how long he’ll be out.

The team has yet to announce if Nurkic will need surgery.  

 

According to certified athletic trainer Jeff Stotts, he explained that Nurkic's wrist injury could have him sidelined for an average of 32 games this season if surgery is in the cards. 

For now though, the Blazers will look to keep Nurk's spirits up while also looking at their other options.