Bucks Bobby Portis MCL injury FAQ: How much time will he miss? Exchange for help?

MILWAUKEE — When Bobby Portis emerged from the visitors’ locker room at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Monday night, he wore a smile on his face as he weaved through teammates and Bucks staff to get to the narrow exit at the door. He knew he had to do a little campaign.

Yahoo! Sportswriter Vincent Goodwill, whom Portis got to know well in Chicago with the Bulls, mentioned the award as Sixth Man of the Year, so Portis made his case. Once he got going, Portis was hard to stop.

But eventually the campaign ended. Afterward, Portis took a few questions from the assembled reporters about the right knee injury he suffered early in the fourth quarter that forced the Bucks to scratch him from the game.

“I don’t even know,” Portis said when asked what happened to his right leg. “I know someone just stepped on my leg. And that was it. I’ll be fine though.”

While Portis was confident that he did not suffer a serious injury immediately after the fight, further investigation proved otherwise. Athletics Shams Charania reported that Portis will miss some time with a right MCL sprain. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has since reported that it is a grade 2 MCL sprain.

Following this morning’s report on the injury, the Bucks released their own medical update on Portis:

The timeline for Portis’ return depends entirely on the severity of the MCL sprain. Players tend to take four to six weeks to recover from Grade 2 MCL sprains, but the additional details that emerge in the coming days and weeks will help decipher how much time Portis will miss .

What are some comparable situations around the league?

It’s hard to make any sort of diagnosis based on the video alone, but here was the play in the fourth quarter where the injury occurred:

Portis suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in October 2018 as a member of the Bulls. He did not return to the floor again until December 10, 47 days after the initial injury. There are different degrees of severity even within the different degrees of sprains, and each injury is different. But it’s notable that it took Portis nearly seven weeks to recover from his latest Grade 2 right MCL sprain.

Nets forward Kevin Durant is the most prominent player to suffer the injury recently. Durant suffered an MCL sprain in his right knee on Jan. 8 against the Heat when Jimmy Butler fell on his leg after a layup attempt. The Nets said they would reevaluate Durant after two weeks, which they did Monday, and now they will reevaluate him in another two weeks with Durant hoping to return before the 2023 NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 19. So Durant will almost certainly end up missing at least four weeks.

Bucks fans may recall that Khris Middleton suffered a left MCL sprain last postseason when he slipped while attempting a spin move in the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the Bucks’ first-round series against Chicago on April 20 . A day after the injury occurred, the Bucks announced they would have to reevaluate Middleton’s injury in two weeks. On May 5, with the Bucks and Celtics tied 1–1 in their second-round series, the Bucks announced that Middleton “continues to make steady progress” on his injury rehabilitation and that further updates would be provided as needed. However, another update never took place as the Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs by the Celtics on May 15.

On May 16, Middleton spoke to reporters and revealed that the severity of his injury was “right around” a grade 2 sprain. While Middleton wanted to play in Game 6 and Game 7, he said the team’s medical staff thought it was just too much of a risk for him to play. There’s no way of knowing when Middleton would have played next, but missing the entire second-round series meant Middleton missed at least four weeks with his MCL sprain.

What does Portis bring to the Bucks?

Portis has been one of the Bucks’ most consistent players this season.

He was one of only two players on the roster to play in the Bucks’ first 47 games, averaging 14.4 points and 10.1 rebounds in 26.8 minutes per game. competition while he was doing it. Portis is one of 13 NBA players to average a double-double this season, and the only one to do so primarily off the bench (he’s only started 14 games).

On a nightly basis, coach Mike Budenholzer knew his 27-year-old center would always bring energy, physicality on the glass and scoring off the bench. Portis would handle the Bucks’ backup minutes at both power forward and center, allowing Bundeholzer to use his preferred three-man big man rotation.

With Middleton missing all but eight games this season with wrist and knee injuries, Budenholzer also used Portis to generate shots. Portis has always been able to create his own looks while on the block, but the Bucks asked him to create more shots for others, leading to a career-high 1.9 assists per game. It may not have always led to beautiful, beautiful basketball sequences, but the isolation and post-up possessions for Portis helped the Bucks get enough successful possessions to stay afloat offensively at times.

Although Portis has been consistent, things haven’t gone perfectly for him this season. After being one of the NBA’s best stretch big men in his first two seasons with the Bucks, Portis hasn’t shot the ball as well from deep this season. After making 47.1 percent on 2.4 3-point attempts per game in 2020-21, his first season in Milwaukee, Portis nearly doubled his attempts per game (4.7) last season while still making 39 .3 percent from the deep. But this season, without Middleton getting defensive attention, Portis has made just 34.1 percent from 3 to 3.6 attempts per game. match. Opponents have made it a priority to drive him away from the 3-point line, just like the Celtics did last season in the playoffs, and force him to take different shots inside the 3-point line.

How can the Bucks cover for Portis with players already on the roster?

Milwaukee will likely end up lacking most in terms of his size and everything that came with it.

This type of injury was the exact reason the Bucks re-signed Serge Ibaka in the offseason. After being forced to cycle through free-agent big men last season with Brook Lopez sidelined with a back injury, general manager Jon Horst didn’t want to face the same problem if either Portis or Lopez came to injury this season. At this point, however, Ibaka won’t be much help unless the Bucks can convince him to rejoin the team; he and the Bucks recently agreed to try to find him a new home via trade.

If the Bucks don’t bring Ibaka back, they’ll have to move on with lesser options. While both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Budenholzer prefer to save a heavy diet of small-ball looks for the postseason to prevent Antetokounmpo from wearing out, the Bucks could choose to lean on playing Antetokounmpo more at center and have Joe Ingles or Pat Connaughton as the nominal power forwards in lineups.

“I’ve still found ways to play bigger than what I am and I think Coach Bud is doing a great job of using me in different areas,” Connaughton said after Wednesday’s shootaround when asked about potentially playing power forward more with Portis out. “Playing the four is something that’s not new to me and when you screen and you roll, Jrue (Holiday) and I, Giannis and I, we all have some continuity with me screening now, it’s not just about getting to the rim and finishing, it’s about being a playmaker in the roll, and I think that’s where I can be most dangerous. You got guys cutting, you’ve got shooters around me.”

Lopez and I always joke about it,” Connaughton continued. “I’m probably the shortest guy who rolls (on the pick-and-roll), but causes the most havoc on a defense when I’m in the paint from the pick-and-roll. It’s fun to be in that situation, and it’s a situation where, wherever I play, I’m going to try to have the biggest impact that I can.”

Like Connaughton, Ingles is no stranger to playing power forward. Positional estimates based on the lineup data at Cleaning the Glass suggest that Ingles spent nearly half of his time at power forward in his final three seasons with the Jazz, but only 41 percent of his time with the Bucks at power forward so far.

Total minutes % time at PF










2022-23 (bucks)



With Portis returning, the Bucks could give Ingles more options at small forward or whatever lineup configurations they want to try before the postseason.

If the Bucks don’t want to use smaller lineups, they could give two-way player Sandro Mamukelashvili more court time. The 23-year-old out of Seton Hall profiles more as a forward than a center in his second season with the Bucks, but Budenholzer used him at the 5 last season as the team tried to stay afloat without Lopez (back injury) and could do the same again to cover minutes for the next few weeks.

In a way, Middleton could end up being the player who most closely fills the void left by Portis, even if their positions don’t match up. Without Middleton, the Bucks leaned on Portis to score every night and deployed Portis’ offensive skills to lead bench units when Antetokounmpo rested. Without Portis, Middleton should be able to take on those scoring duties as he gets used to playing more minutes.

Should they try to barter for help?

While the Bucks likely have an idea of ​​how much time Portis will miss, they haven’t shared the severity of his MCL sprain, making it difficult to gauge what they’ll actually need to survive his absence. If Portis is only out for a few weeks, then the Bucks can likely survive without adding backup big men to their list of potential trade deadline targets.

But if it’s going to take longer than expected with a grade 2 sprain, Horst could look to add a big man via trade.

The Bucks currently have a full roster, so they can’t currently sign a free agent center if that’s how they want to go about trying to fill Portis’ spot. If they can’t convince Ibaka to return to the team, perhaps Horst could deal him to another team that also has a disgruntled big man. Or, with the value of big men dropping around the league, perhaps the Bucks could find a suitable backup big man to eat up a few weeks of playing time in exchange for a second-round pick.

There’s also the possibility of making a trade for someone like Jae Crowder, even if he’s not a traditional big man. The Bucks have been linked to Crowder by our Shams Charania since the start of this season, with the Suns agreeing to let Crowder remain away from the team as they tried to find a suitable trade for the 32-year-old forward. In October, we broke down the potential complications of a deal, which included overlap with Ingles and Connaughton. Without Portis on the floor for a few weeks, though, some of those complications disappear as the Bucks could use another body and then opt to play smaller units to cover for Portis.

(Photo by Bobby Portis: Benny Sieu / USA Today)

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