We’re only a few days into training camp, and the Boston Celtics already have another injury issue to contend with.
According to The Athletic’s Jared Weiss, Luke Kornet has suffered a sprained ankle and will be out for around two weeks – which is essentially the rest of training camp.
“Celtics center Luke Kornet suffered an ankle sprain in practice this week and will miss one-to-two weeks, sources tell me and Shams Charania,” Weiss Tweeted on September 30.
With Robert Williams set to miss between eight and twelve weeks following arthroscopic surgery on his knee, Kornet was in line to see a significant boost to his playing time and could have forced his way into Boston’s primary rotation. Unfortunately, with the seven-foot big man now sidelined for the remainder of the Celtics’ off-season preparations, he will have to play catch-up once the regular season gets underway in late October.
Kornet participated in 12 games for the Celtics last season, averaging 2.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 0.7 assists per game while shooting 70.6% inside of the perimeter, and it would seem that his performances in training have the coaching staff feeling good about increasing his playing time for the upcoming season.
Celtics Sign Blake Griffin
Shortly before the news of Kornet’s injury broke, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Celtics were signing Blake Griffin to a one-year deal, which appears to be fully guaranteed.
Griffin, a 12-year veteran is no longer the dominant superstar he once was, but will provide the Celtics with another big body that can knock down shots on the perimeter and control the defensive glass, while it’s also worth noting that he is a gifted passer, both out of the post and above the perimeter.
This past season, Griffin was with the Brooklyn Nets, and secured regular-season averages of 6.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game, while shooting 26.2% from deep (way below his career average of 32.7%) and 56.5% from two-point range.
In Danilo Gallinari, Robert Williams, and Luke Kornet, the Celtics now have three injured bigs on their roster, so adding a legitimate veteran like Blake Griffin makes sense both now, and in the long term given how similar his current playstyle is to that of Gallinari’s – who projects to be out for the entire of the upcoming season.
Griffin Isn’t The Star he Once Was
Whenever a team signs a veteran star, it’s easy to remember the player for who they were in their prime, rather than who they’ve become at the tail end of their career, and fans might fall into this trap with Griffin.
Sure, at his best, Griffin was a physically dominant forward with ‘jump out of the gym’ athleticism. However, the Oklahoma native isn’t that same star anymore, although he can still give you some highly valuable minutes off the bench – as he did for Brooklyn last season.
Speaking on a September 30 episode of the CelticsBlog podcast, NBA analyst Keith Smith noted how Griffin might not be the star of the past, but he was certainly one of the best choices the Celtics had available to them via the free agency market.
“One of my favorite things I like to say is guys are more name than game at some point in their career, and that’s kind of what this is. But that doesn’t mean Blake Griffin’s completely washed up…I honestly think for what this team currently needs, Blake Griffin is probably the best fit for what the roster looks like it’s shaping up to be, and what It needs at the moment, and for the next few months,” Smith said.
Hopefully, Griffin can step right into the rotation and help the Celtics keep their heads above water while they wait for some of their other bigs to recover from injury and ramp their fitness back-up – and then, we need to hope the veteran big man is willing to accept a reduced role off the bench.