Troy Murphy was a pretty genius addition for the Nets. They wormed their way into the Darren Collison-Trevor Ariza deal and wound up with a quality starting power forward to let Derrick Favors grow into his sneakers. Murphy can stretch the floor, rebound, and is productive minute by minute when he gets on the floor.
Problem is, he’s not getting on the floor. And it doesn’t look like that will be happening any time soon.
NBA.com reports that Murphy is out “indefinitely” with a back problem. The problem, head coach Avery Johnson said Saturday, is a “bad disk.” That’s frightening news, despite Johnson saying he doesn’t think Johnson will need surgery. That bold emphasis is from your esteemed weekend editor, and it is for effect. This has all the signs of something that could clear up in a week, or could drag on until surgery is unavoidable. There’s little way to predict how it will go, and in the meantime, you can be assured that Murphy is in a considerable amount of pain.
The impact of this is greater than you think. Favors is struggling, and I mean badly, in his preseason games. He needs time, and this injury does not afford him that. Meanwhile, it makes the Nets much more of a wing-oriented team and puts more pressure on Brook Lopez to carry the inside burden. Throw in the fact that there are two teams with playoff aspirations (Celtics, Knicks) who can get fat off their four games with the Nets, and this thing looks more significant than you’d think at first glance.