Myles Turner has not played since January 14 because of a stress reaction in his left foot and that will continue through the final two weeks of the season, the team announced Monday.
“After numerous conversations with our medical team, Myles, and his representatives, it became clear to everyone that despite Myles’ continued progress and positive diagnosis, there simply is not enough time remaining in the season to properly and safely prepare him for the demanding workload associated with an NBA game,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard. “We will continue to work closely with Myles and we’re looking forward to his return to the court at full strength next season.”
On February 25, following the team’s first practice since the All-Star Break, indications were that Turner “was still a couple weeks out” from returning, according to head coach Rick Carlisle. Granted, given how the perpetual “weeks, not months” saga ultimately played out with T.J. Warren’s separate injury, there’s no telling what exactly “weeks” means in Carlisle-speak, but there was no further update on the possibility of Turner playing this season since he started participating in non-contact work at practice earlier this month.
Of course, with the fifth-worst record in the league, it arguably doesn’t make much sense on either side for him to rush back headed into a contract year in order to take minutes from Isaiah Jackson, Jalen Smith, and Goga Bitadze— especially considering the potential for rust with only seven games left to play. After all, Malcolm Brogdon has sat out the last four games due to rest and reconditioning and Warren isn’t even with the team anymore, instead continuing his rehab in North Carolina.
Getting back on the court, though, would’ve provided at least some insight into how he might mesh with Tyrese Haliburton, with the team preparing for a critical draft as well as free agency. None of which is to mention that, Turner has yet to log a single minute of action alongside Isaiah Jackson, who has played less than 40 minutes, and even fewer of consequence, defending at the four.
In the 33 games in which Turner hasn’t played this season, the Pacers have surrendered 120.3 points per 100 possessions — which, equivalently, is a worse mark than the worst defense in the league, owned by the Houston Rockets (115.9). That said, while regaining his rim protection and communication will certainly be a major part of the solution, some of the slippage on that end of the floor also predated his absence, including in minutes when Sabonis wasn’t playing, as the defense has continued to take on more and more forms without a solidified identify and in the absence of clear answers at the point of attack.
Meanwhile, after starting the season averaging 13.5 points while shooting 36.5 percent from three through his first 35 games, he averaged 9.4 points while converting just 41 percent of his overall field-goal attempts in January, including misfiring on 21 of 24 threes. At the time, however, trade rumors were swirling around the roster, which was depleted due to COVID, making it difficult to discern how much of that drop-off was the result of actual regression, wherein he still struggled to find his own usage, taking a backseat at times to players on call-ups, versus small sample size, unfamiliar lineups, outside noise, and early signs of foot soreness before receiving a diagnosis and seeking a second opinion. Either way, with more spacing on the roster post-trade and the possibility of playing increased minutes at solo five, the stage is set for him to make a leap on that end of the floor, if he’s going to.
According to injury buff Jeff Stotts of InStreetClothes, the average amount of lost time among players who have suffered stress reactions is 20 games, with Turner set to miss 39.