Eric Maynor will miss the rest of the 2011-12 season with a torn right ACL, the team announced Sunday afternoon.
“It is unfortunate to lose a player like Eric, whose work ethic and leadership has contributed to the culture of our organization,” Sam Presti said in a release. “Knowing him and the mental toughness he possesses, we are confident that he will do everything necessary to come back from this injury and be prepared for the 2012-13 season. Injuries are part of the NBA, and although it is tough to lose Eric, we must move forward and focus on our continued improvement as a basketball team.”
This is really the first major injury the Thunder have had to deal with. There have been some rolled ankles and sprained knees, but nothing this serious to this important of a player. It will be a big test for the Thunder’s depth, but also on their mental toughness. Losing a player that’s so close to everyone like Maynor isn’t easy.
Rookie Reggie Jackson seems like the obvious replacement for Maynor’s 10-15 minutes a night behind Russell Westbrook, but don’t be shocked if Scott Brooks uses Royal Ivey in that spot as well. Ivey is a steady veteran that is an ideal guy to give you 10 minutes of smart basketball. He won’t make big plays like Maynor, but unless Brooks really trusts in his rookie from Boston College, Ivey is the safer choice, at least for now.
But Jackson says he's ready for a big role on a contending team.
"Somebody has to step up in his position and I guess that’s what I have to try to go out there and do; be me and hopefully I can do enough for this team to keep winning," Jackson said before OKC's game Sunday.
Or even James Harden. I think Harden is entirely capable of handling some point guard duties in stretches and if Brooks is looking for a playmaker and doesn’t entirely feel Jackson is ready and that Ivey doesn’t add enough, Harden can run pick-and-roll all day long. He’s a great passes and while the bench will take a hit in depth, just play Daequan Cook more minutes.
It’s time for Brooks to coach a bit and figure out how to keep this team running while missing an important piece.
Brooks said before the Thunder's game against the Spurs Sunday that all three scenarios are likely, with a third thrown in too: Russell Westbrook just plays more minutes. Westbrook has been quite the iron man since entering the league having never missed a game in his three-plus seasons.
Obviously Presti could look at the free agent market a bit or the D-League or even a trade. But I’m sure the team is going to want to give Jackson a real hard, long look before they go that direction.