After announcing that big man Chet Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2022 draft, will miss his entire rookie season after sustaining a right foot injury, Thunder general manager Sam Presti held an impromptu media session (video link) to provide more details and insight on the situation, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (subscriber link).
The 20-year-old will undergo surgery in the “coming weeks,” said Presti, adding that Holmgren is expected to make a full recovery by the start of 2023/24. The GM said the long-term outlook is “very positive,” described the injury as bad luck, and that Holmgren suffered a “rupture of the tendon” and “not a fracture,” according to Mussatto.
Presti also dismissed a question asking whether Holmgren’s thin frame might have been a factor in the injury.
“I understand there’s a lot of first-level thinking going on out there,” Presti said. “We can’t really control that. It’s a figment of the alternate reality that is the internet. But that’s not where reality resides. There are opinions and there are facts, and we are dealing with the facts.”
While the injury took place during a Seattle pro-am that was later called off due to unsafe (slippery) court conditions, Presti doesn’t believe that led to the incident.
“I don’t think the condensation on the floor was a factor,” Presti said, per Mussatto. “Obviously this happened pretty early, and I don’t believe that issue came up until later.”
Presti said Holmgren will work with longtime former Thunder veteran Nick Collison during the recovery process, Mussatto notes. Like Holmgren, Collison also missed his entire rookie season with an injury and now works in the team’s front office.
Here are a few more notes regarding the unfortunate news:
- Because the pro-am league, called “The CrawsOver” in honor of founder Jamal Crawford, is on the list of sanctioned events by the NBA, Holmgren’s future earnings will not be impacted, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The Thunder will receive an insurance reimbursement worth 80% of Holmgren’s per-game salary once he misses 41 games, for a total of $4MM, Marks relays in a separate tweet.
- The injury shouldn’t be an indictment on NBA players who participate in pro-am leagues, argues Law Murray of The Athletic. The events are free and take place in more intimate venues, which allows players to connect to fans in local communities, and they’ve been going on for decades without an issue, Murray writes. The fact that the incident took place at a pro-am league was just a random occurrence that shouldn’t “validate the concerns” of the minority who think players should only play in NBA games, says Murray.
- Presti agrees with Murray’s assessment, according to Mussatto. “Players are going to play in these (pro-ams),” Presti said, “because the NBA is saying that they are okay to play in. The other thing is, guys are playing all over the place all the time everywhere. If you have players that love to play, they are going to play basketball. Every time you step on a basketball court, something like this could happen. It could happen in a game. It could happen in a practice. It could happen in a scrimmage.”