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Cavaliers project J.R. Smith to miss 40-47 more games

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J.R. Smith had his thumb surgery, and his prognosis has been revealed.

Cavaliers release:

Cavalier guard J.R. Smith’s surgery to repair a complex fracture of his right thumb was completed on Friday morning at the Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center in Montrose, Ohio. The surgery was performed by renowned hand surgeon Dr. Thomas Graham of Northwell Health of New York. Dr. TJ Reilly of the Crystal Clinic assisted. Also present was Dr. Richard D. Parker of Cleveland Clinic Sports Health. Smith will now undergo a period of recovery and rehabilitation for his thumb and his return to play timeline is currently projected at 12-14 weeks.

That timeline would put Smith out until late March and mean he’ll miss 40 to 47 more games.

DeAndre Liggins will likely keep starting at shooting guard in Smith’s place so Iman Shumpert can stay in his comfortable – though likely enhanced – reserve role. Liggins is a solid defender, but he can’t match Smith’s outside shooting. Shumpert having a nice season alleviates some concern in Cleveland.

But this still puts a little more pressure on the Cavs to finally add a rotation-caliber backup point guard. That could come via trade or signing. With Chris Andersen out for the year and on an expiring minimum contract, waiving him to open a roster spot carries little pain.

The Cavaliers are the class of the Eastern Conference with plenty of margin for error. Smith’s injury eats only somewhat into that.

Still, it could open the door for the Raptors, who are just 1.5 games out of first place in the East. But LeBron James has shown an ability to win playoff series without home-court advantage. Getting Smith healthy and fully functioning will do more for Cleveland’s postseason prospects than an extra home game in the Eastern Conference finals.

PBT Extra: Three things to watch with Boston in wake of Hayward injury

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Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.

What next for Boston?

In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.

Gordon Hayward addresses Celtics and fans from hospital bed (video)

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Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.

Hayward:

What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.

At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.

And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.

76ers coach Brett Brown: Joel Embiid’s minute restriction could quickly rise

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Joel Embiid‘s minute limit of below 20 bummed out everyone (especially Embiid).

But good news could be on the way.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

The 76ers look like a borderline playoff team, Embiid’s health the biggest variable. There’s a direct correlation between his ability to stay on the court and Philadelphia’s postseason chances.

Plus, he’s just so darn fun to watch. The more he plays, the bigger victory it is for every viewer not rooting for the 76ers’ opponent that night.

Report: Bucks have offered second-round pick as enticement for Rashad Vaughn trade

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John Henson was on the trade block. Greg Monroe seems permanently affixed there.

Another player the Bucks apparently want to deal? Rashad Vaughn, who was the No. 17 pick in 2015.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Milwaukee has been working to trade several players to clear salary-cap space, including guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson, league sources said. The Bucks have been willing to attach a second-round pick in offers for Vaughn, league sources said.

It’s unclear whether the Bucks are still as motivated to move Vaughn. They slid under the luxury-tax line by stretching Spencer Hawes. One-time target Richard Jefferson already signed with the Nuggets. A roster vacancy and cap savings might not matter as much anymore to Milwaukee.

But Vaughn has struggled in two NBA seasons. The Bucks might be better off trying to develop someone else, even a D-League player, over the 21-year-old Vaugh.

Vaughn is due $1,889,040 this season. He faces a $2,901,565 team option for next season, which his team must decide on by Oct. 31. It seems unlikely that will be exercised.

This is what happens when you draft players for the wrong reason.