The Portland Trail Blazers closed Tuesday night with some good news and some bad news. Immediately after a thrilling win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Arena, the team dumped news that forward Maurice Harkless would undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
The Blazers didn’t give a timetable for his return.
Losing Harkless is a huge blow to the Blazers. A starter at the beginning of the year, the 6th-year player fell out of the rotation thanks to inconsistent play and a moody appearance on the bench. Harkless later apologized to his teammates after seeing a replay of a game and noticing his poor body language.
Things have looked up for Harkless ever since, and he’s been a huge boon for Portland. The multi-talented forward hit another contract bonus this season for 3-point shooting, and he was integral to the Blazers’ recent 13-game winning streak.
The Blazers say Harkless’ surgery is to remove a “loose body” in his left knee.
Meanwhile, Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest is reporting that Harkless has been told he could have a recovery time ranging anywhere from 10 days to six weeks.
That’s a huge stretch for Portland, who are angling to keep the third spot in the Western Conference playoff race. The team will miss Harkless, who has been more aggressive and a more useful 3-point shooter than Evan Turner. There’s also something to be said about Portland’s overall health — Turner hurt his back over the weekend and is still dealing with it.
If Harkless returns in 10 days, he will make it back in time for Portland’s final game of the season against Utah on Apr. 11. If he takes a full six weeks, he won’t be back until the first week of May.