TORONTO — Another big blow for OG Anunoby.
The Toronto Raptors forward underwent an emergency appendectomy on Thursday evening, two days before the Raptors were slated to tip off against the Orlando Magic in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
"My first thought is what a bad break for him, just bizarre timing, and it doesn't even happen on the basketball court or have anything to do with it," coach Nick Nurse said after Friday's practice. "So I feel bad for him."
The 21-year-old, who had the surgery at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital, missed 15 games in the regular season, sitting out eight games early on for personal reasons. He also missed three with a wrist sprain, and four games recently with concussion-like symptoms.
"He's had a difficult year, but in the past 10 to 12 days, I feel like he was in a really good space," Nurse said. "He was starting to move around a little better, feel a little better about himself. I think he was really looking forward to putting his chopped-up regular season behind him and getting a fresh start with the playoffs. But now he won't get that chance."
There's no timeline for his return, but he's expected to be out for at least the first round of the post-season. Andrea Bargnani, while with the Raptors, missed a month of action with appendicitis in 2007, while the late Roy Halladay missed three weeks with the Toronto Blue Jays the same year.
The six-foot-eight Anunoby has averaged 7.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 20.2 minutes per outing in 67 games in his sophomore season. He scored in double figures 15 times, with two 20-point games.
"He's just kind of a Swiss knife, he can give you a lot of stuff defensively, offensively," centre Marc Gasol said.
Nurse said he hasn't had time to figure out how he'll deal with the athletic forward's absence.
"I'll take the rest of today and tomorrow to get there," Nurse said. "This is a team with a lot of size, and OG is one of our size and length guys, so obviously we're gonna miss him. This would have been a great team for him to be out there for. So we've got to figure out what we're gonna do."
Anunoby was on his teammates' minds Friday as they prepared to tip off the post-season.
"I briefly texted him and asked him how things were going," Danny Green said. "He's had a rough year. It sucks. I feel for the guy. We know he's an important piece and an important part of what we do every day here. We're going to need him at some point so we wish him a speedy recovery . . . He's a tough kid mentally, and I know he'll bounce back."
Lori Ewing , The Canadian Press