D’Angelo Russell Undergoes Arthroscopic Procedure
No timetable for point guard’s return after knee injury
Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee Friday, according to Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks.
Marks delivered the update prior to Friday night’s game against the Utah Jazz at Barclays Center. It was in Utah six days ago that Russell limped off the court in the final minutes after scoring 26 points. He did not play in Tuesday’s home loss to the Boston Celtics.
The procedure, Marks said, was to “remove a loose body” from Russell’s left knee.
“We felt that after the initial injury in Utah, it was best to wait a week, continue to evaluate, continue to evaluate with treatment, see how he responded,” said Marks. “Obviously now we’ve decided to go in this direction. This is the direction that’s best for D’Angelo for this coming season and also long term for his career.”
Marks did not offer a timetable for Russell’s return, but did say the third-year guard would be “evaluated every day” and that he would return this season.
In his first season with the Nets, Russell was averaging a team-leading 20.9 points and 5.7 assists in 12 games.
“It’s definitely frustrating for D’Angelo,” said Marks. “But I was just with him before. He’s going into this as another challenge. He knows he’ll bounce back from this and we have no doubts in our mind that he’ll be better and stronger than he was before.”
Spencer Dinwiddie will continue to start in Russell’s absence. Dinwiddie played a season-high 34 minutes against the Celtics on Tuesday with Russell out. The 6-6 guard is averaging 9.9 points and 5.4 assists in 23.2 minutes per game. With just 14 total turnovers in 13 games, Dinwiddie has a 5.0 assist to turnover ratio, second in the NBA.
“I love how he defends, 6-foot-6 and athletic,” said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. “I think he’s come a long way. I think he’s come a long way with his strength, physical standpoint. He’s gotten stronger, he’s got more confident. We put him on sometimes the best wing when it’s the end of game, because he’s agile, he understands defense. So that’s great. And he’s got a good understanding of what we do on offense. That’s just his being here a long time. So grasping that better and better. I thought the last game we did a pretty good job getting in our offense and moving the ball side to side. I think we had 27 assists, which is nice; so he understands what we want.”
When asked on Thursday what the priorities were in filling point guard minutes behind Dinwiddie, Atkinson stressed defense and for players to know their role. He’s also said it wasn’t a one-man job.
“We do it by committee,” said Atkinson on Friday. “We have a good group of wings, and guards. I think we’ve strengthened the roster. I think we’ve developed sufficiently enough to withstand injuries. So Spencer obviously will continue in his role, Isaiah (Whitehead), Caris (LeVert), and SK (Sean Kilpatrick) will be in that mix, too. So we’ll do it by committee; that’s how we do things.”
LeVert had 15 points against the Celtics on Tuesday, shooting 6-of-7 overall and 2-of-2 from 3-point range. It was his second double-digit scoring game in six games and one point off his season high. Kilpatrick has played in just seven games so far this season, but saw significant time at the point last season when Jeremy Lin was sidelined with hamstring injuries.
The same is true of Whitehead, who started 26 games as a rookie, averaging 7.4 points in 22.5 minutes per game. A physical 6-4 guard, Whitehead has always made an impression on Atkinson with his defensive effort, but minutes have been hard to come by in a crowded backcourt, even after Jeremy Lin’s season-ending injury on opening night.
Three of Whitehead’s four appearances this season have come in the last week. With Russell sidleined, more are sure to come.
“I still think he’s a young player. I don’t want to throw 25 minutes at him, 20 minutes,” said Atkinson. “Like you saw with Caris, he’s supported by Caris. Caris can do it too. It depends on his play during the game. He’s a little more inexperienced than anything. We’re giving him doses. I don’t want to throw it at him all at one time. As he plays better and his confidence grows, he’ll get more and more minutes. I will say I was very pleased with his defense. I think that’s where I stand right now. He gives us a nice defensive presence, nice size. He can guard 2s, 3s, 1s. The point guard stuff has got to come. He and Caris, the way we play, they can share the ballhandling duty a little bit.”