Waiting to be cleared, Stuckey is thankful Pacers caught his injury early

The bad news: Rodney Stuckey hasn’t suited up in more than six weeks. He’s dealing with what the team is calling a sprain and bone bruise in his right foot that has kept him in street clothes for 19 straight games … and counting.

The good news: His season could’ve been over, but it’s not. Stuckey revealed that his injury is similar to what Memphis’ Marc Gasol and Phoenix’s T.J. Warren are recovering from. Both of them had season-ending surgery on their right foot.

Gasol had surgery this week for a non-displaced Type II fracture of the navicular bone in his right foot. Warren had right foot surgery during last week’s All-Star break.

Rodney Stuckey has been bothered by his right foot/ankle for most of the season.

Rodney Stuckey has been bothered by his right foot/ankle for most of the season.

“Fortunately they caught it early,” Stuckey said after the Pacers’ 108-105 win over the New York Knicks Monday night. He said that he has a stress reaction and was thankful that the team’s medical staff perhaps saved his season.

“This injury was caused by the time I twisted my ankle in the Miami game,” he said. “Then, I tried to come back early and then I twisted it again in the Orlando game. I sat out, felt better, but I didn’t sit out as long as I should have so it caught up to me at the end.”

The Pacers (31-26) miss the veteran’s toughness on the court. He’s constantly looks for holes to attack and he averages the second-most free throws on the team, behind Paul George.

“He’s a great player on both sides of the ball,” said head coach Frank Vogel.

“He brings great toughness on the defensive end, great experience on the defensive end, and he’s a guy that’s in attack mode all night getting to the free throw line. He’ll help us get to the free throw line more.”

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It’s unclear when Stuckey might return. It may come as soon as Friday when the Charlotte Hornets come to town for the second time. He has not yet been cleared to participate in practice, but has added to his workload since the All-Star break because he was allowed to do some basketball-related activities, like playing 3-on-3.

“Day-by-day now,” Stuckey shared. “Hopefully they give me the word soon. It’s feeling a lot better though.”

Prior to the All-Star break, limited in what he was allowed to do. “Wasn’t doing nothing,” he said. “Wasn’t able to run. Pretty much [just] treatment.”

He’s now running on the court and sprinting on the treadmill. He’s eager to get cleared for more basketball activities. Still, whenever he does return to game action, Stuckey expects to ease back into things.

“Oh yeah, without a doubt,” he said. “I’ve been out for five weeks or so. When I come back, I’ll definitely be on a minutes restriction. Whenever that is. Hopefully soon. I’m waiting for them to just give me the word.”

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Paul George carried much of the load in Wednesday’s win over the Knicks by scoring 27 points, including 15 in the final frame. He says Stuckey’s presence on the floor, because of how frequently he looks to attack, makes things easier for everyone else. And they’ve missed that in late-game situations. (They are 7-7 this season in games decided by three points or less.)

“I don’t think he gets enough credit for his decision making,” George said. “He’s one of the best play-makers, one of the best scorers in this league. It’s a huge, huge hole that we have to fill in our second unit when he’s not out there with us. His ability to get to the paint and draw defenders, and kick out really opens this game out for us.”

C.J. Miles was in street clothes Wednesday because of a strained left calf, an injury that dealt with during training camp in 2014. Remember, rookie Myles Turner, now a starter, missed 20 games, and Ian Mahinmi sat out for nine games due to a plethora of injuries.

“That’s been the biggest problem we’ve been having — not knowing who’s suiting up and who’s out and who’s in and who’s healthy,” said George. “We’ve really just been having an injury bug plaguing this team right now. That’s the toughest part because we’re trying to get some chemistry, we’re trying to grow. Especially getting late into the season where we’re going to need guys to be healthy and we’re going to need to be playing our best basketball. It’s tough but I guess the best thing about it is that when it is their time come back to the rotation they’ll be a little fresher.”

Stuckey is averaging 9.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game this season.

Stuckey is averaging 9.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game this season.

Stuckey, meanwhile, is chomping at the bit to return. See, he’s not accustom to sitting out.

The only other time that he’s missed a significant number of games was in 2007 — his rookie season — when a broken hand cost him the first 25 games of his professional career.

He’s been absent for 24 games this season, and the Pacers are 12-12 in those games.

What exactly does this injury feel like, I asked him.

“I can’t really explain how it feels. It’s pain in my foot.”

Stuckey got an MRI after going down again shortly into a game against Phoenix on Jan. 12. Much of his return depends on the pain, but the challenge for the medical staff is knowing Rodney, and knowing how he has such a high pain tolerance.

“Absolutely, and that’s exactly why they kept me out for so long. Because if it was me, I would’ve been like, ‘Man I can play’ three weeks ago.’

“It’s definitely a good thing that I did the MRI and they sat me. They saw something that wasn’t right and shut me down.”

The plan is for Stuckey to be re-evaluated on Thursday.

One Response to Waiting to be cleared, Stuckey is thankful Pacers caught his injury early
  1. […] As reported by Vigilant Sports’ Scott Agness, catching the injury early has saved the Indiana Pacers and Rodney Stuckey a lot of trouble. […]

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