Lance Stephenson leaving the Circle City for Charlotte was troublesome. Paul George’s leg injury with Team USA was devastating. And while losing, say, Ian Mahinmi for a lengthy period of time isn’t as critical as those two losses, it still adds to the list of the Indiana Pacers’ offseason setbacks.
According to a recent report from Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports – who previously contributed to Pacers.com – Indiana Pacers backup center Ian Mahinmi injured his shoulder while competing in international play for his native France. While there has been no official diagnosis yet, the injury was deemed serious enough to keep him out of the rest of this summer’s FIBA World Cup.
This injury hurts the depth of the French national team, a squad that’s already playing without Tony Parker and Joakim Noah. However, given the fact that you’re reading InkOnIndy.com, you’re probably more interested about how this will affect the blue and gold. In the initial projections, Mahinmi will miss 2-3 months, meaning that barring setbacks, Mahinmi should be ready or near ready by the time the Pacers tip off the regular season in late October. That would be at about the earliest of that range, and the furthest along in that projection would have him missing up to around 12-15 games or so. More information will become available he is further examined by the Indiana medical staff.
What this means is more of either the undersized Lavoy Allen, who was an offseason focus of the team’s front office, or undrafted rookie Shayne Whittington. The other option is that the Pacers follow a recent trend around the NBA and go smaller when Roy Hibbert takes a seat. Teams like Miami and Brooklyn have proven that success can be had by going that route, which means potentially a mix-and-match of David West, Luis Scola, Lavoy Allen, Damjan Rudez, or Chris Copeland on the floor at the same time.
I support and appreciate athletes, of any sport, competing for their home country. Just putting myself in their shoes and imagining donning a jersey for your homeland has to be an unrivaled feeling. Therefore, I will never be one to criticize a player for competing in such tournaments, even if it’s not for the organization that is paying their multi-million dollar salary. However, it is understandably very hard for Pacers fans to not have at least a little animosity toward international play as a whole given what has happened to both George and Mahinmi this month.
There are a couple silver linings here. One is that it sounds like, minus any lingering issues or worse-than-expected details about the injury, Mahinmi will not miss many games. A second silver lining is that this will force head coach Frank Vogel to improvise with his rotations even more, a sticking point of his coaching performance last year that even he admitted fell into the ‘hindsight is 20/20′ category.
No matter what, here’s to hoping that while playing for Argentina and Croatia respectively, Luis Scola and Damjan Rudez come back in one piece.