Backup point guard Toney Douglas is already out with a stress reaction in his left leg and now the Golden State Warriors will be without backup center Jermaine O’Neal.
O’Neal was hurt in Saturday night’s 102-88 win over the Utah Jazz at Oracle Arena, when his right leg buckled when he slipped along the baseline, away from the ball, early in the fourth quarter. He was originally diagnosed with a sprained right knee and a strained right groin, but an MRi Sunday showed his knee is bruised rather than sprained (h/t USA Today.)
O’Neal is in his 18th season and he has provided a leadership voice in the Golden State locker room, something coach Mark Jackson ackowledged.
“I took a full timeout because Jermaine means a lot to this basketball team—and he’s a voice in the locker room—so we had to regroup,” Jackson told the San Francisco Chronicle.
With Festus Ezeli still out after surgery on his right knee, the cupboard is a little bit thin as far as big men off the bench is concerned.
Draymond Green will likely see more playing time, as will rookie Ognjen Kuzmic, while O’Neal is recovering and power forward David Lee might be asked to take some minutes at center behind Andrew Bogut, who is healthy this season for the first time in what seems like forever, but is averaging only 25.1 minutes a game in the early going.
O’Neal is averaging 5.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in 16.3 minutes and scored a season-high 17 points on Tuesday in the Warriors’ win over the Detroit Pistons at the Oracle.
O’Neal, 35, is in his 18th season. He was one of the bevy of preps-to-pros players to enter the NBA in the mid-1990s, going to the Portland Trail Blazers with the 17th overall pick in 1996 out of Eau Claire High School in Columbia, S.C.
He was seldom used in four years in Portland, averaging just 11.5 minutes a game, but his career took off when he was traded to the Indiana Pacers in August 2000. O’Neal was a six-time All-Star with the Pacers and won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award in 2001-02. He played third in the Most Valuable Player voting in 2003-04.
He was traded to the Toronto Raptors in July 2008 as part of a package that brought Roy Hibbert to Indiana. He was later dealt to the Miami Heat in February 2009 and also spent two years with the Boston Celtics and played last season for the Phoenix Suns before signing a one-year, $2 million deal with the Warriors in July.
Kuzmic has seen action in eight games, playing 37 minutes and scoring five points with four rebounds and committing 11 fouls. The Warriors also have Dewayne Dedmon with their D-League affiliate in Santa Cruz. But as far as short term help, 10-day contracts aren’t permitted until January, so the Warriors will likely have to go with what they have.
Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported via Twitter this morning that the team plans to bring in Dedmon, who was one of the final cuts in the preseason.
With the injury to Jermaine O’Neal, Golden State plans to sign center Dewayne Dedmon of Santa Cruz in D-League, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) November 18, 2013
Is the situation considered desperate? There was discussion about asking assistant coach Brian Scalabrine to come out of retirement to fill in.
When you’re ready to call the White Mamba? Things might be getting desperate, yes.