EUROPEANS IN THE NBA
|Enes Kanter will undergo surgery on his shoulder, with no timetable for the rehabilitation set yet|
Two of the most talented young Europeans centers will spend part of their Wednesday in hospitals in Chicago, in the USA, but for entirely different reasons.
Enes Kanter of Turkey will undergo surgery to re-attach ligaments in his dislocated left shoulder, his team, the Utah Jazz, announced on Tuesday.
Jonas Valanciunas of Lithuania meanwhile spent the night in hospital after he exited United Arena on a stretcher, wearing a neck brace, after the end of the Toronto Raptors' game at the Chicago Bulls.
Kanter's situation is more worrying, as he is definitely going to be out for the rest of the NBA season, regardless of whether Utah qualify for the play-offs and have a deep run in the post-season.
The 20-year-old Turkish player, who sustained the injury in a game against the Phoenix Suns on 27 March, had been in the meantime examined by various medical experts, and they all suggested he should go ahead with the operation.
"The doctors were unanimous and looking at what was best for Enes and really it came down to simple math," explained Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey.
"The probability of the shoulder dislocating...[it] is much less likely to happen with surgical reattachment rather than straight rehab and at the end of the day, it was an unanimous, easy decision."
The Jazz have set no timetable for the rehabilitation yet, and Lindsey said he was not able to predict if Kanter would be back by July at least.
This development casts a big shadow over the young center's participation with Turkey at EuroBasket 2013.
Kanter had also missed out on last summer's Qualification Round and his only tournament with the senior national team remains EuroBasket 2011, where he averaged 9.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, despite being the youngest player on the side.
In 70 games with Utah this season, his second in the NBA, he averaged 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Valanciunas meanwhile was attempting to grab a loose ball in the dying seconds of the Tuesday encounter in Chicago when his head collided with the shoulder of his team-mate Rudy Gay, who was also moving towards the basketball.
The Lithuanian NBA rookie received medical attention on the bench by the Raptors' medical stuff but it was later decided it would be better to be taken to hospital as 'a precaution', as Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo said, and to undergo thorough exams.
If the tests do not reveal he has suffered a concussion, Valanciunas could exit hospital on Wednesday and be back in action as soon as Friday, when his team go up against Chicago again, but this time at home in Canada.
Toronto won the Tuesday encounter between the two sides 101-98, as Valanciunas had eight points, three rebounds and two assists and Chicago's Italian international Marco Belinelli also finished with eight points; France's Joakim Noah and Great Britain's Luol Deng did not feature for the Bulls, as they are nursing minor injuries.
Valanciunas, who is averaging 8.7 points and six rebounds in his rookie season with the Raptors, is expected to be Lithuania's starting center at the EuroBasket in Slovenia.