On Tuesday, Jan. 9, the Pacers announced that an MRI confirmed that Tyrese Haliburton suffered a strained left hamstring after a scary slip and fall in the first half of a win over the Celtics.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “there’s relief” in the Pacers organization that Haliburton’s injury is a Grade 1 hamstring strain, and he will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks.
This season, Haliburton leads the Pacers with 23.6 points and a league-leading 12.5 assists per game. It should almost go without saying that Indiana, a team that’s 20-13 with the one-time All-Star in the lineup, will take a step back in his absence.
The Pacers will play eight games before Haliburton is re-evaluated. At the earliest, he will return two weeks before the trade deadline and three weeks before the NBA pauses for All-Star Weekend. With this in mind, a few questions arise from Haliburton’s injury.
4 questions facing Pacers following Tyrese Haliburton’s injury
How will the Pacers perform in Tyrese Haliburton’s absence?
At the time of Haliburton’s injury, the Pacers are 21-15 for the season — they’re 20-13 with their star guard in the lineup and 1-2 when he doesn’t suit up.
The sample sizes are small, but the two losses are a 51-point drubbing at the hands of the Celtics and an 18-point loss to the Timberwolves. After Haliburton exited against Boston, T.J. McConnell assumed point guard duties and led the Pacers to 74 second-half points in a two-point win.
It’s hard to fill a league assist-leader-sized void in the starting unit but Indiana will look toward McConnell and Andrew Nembhard to handle playmaking duties.
Haliburton also leads the team in points per game, so they’ll look to the above guards, Buddy Hield and Bennedict Mathurin for more perimeter scoring. Indiana may be able to get by on a short-term basis but it will struggle if it has to deal with an extended absence of Haliburton.
Does this change Indiana’s trade deadline approach?
The Pacers have been one of the more pleasant surprises of the 2023-24 NBA season. Despite their well-documented defensive shortcomings, they have one of the best offenses in league history thanks in large part to Haliburton’s playmaking and command as a floor general.
As a result, Indiana was in a three-way tie for the East’s fourth seed at the time of Haliburton’s injury.
Because they have been able to win games despite their defensive woes, the Pacers have been viewed as a team that could be active at the trade deadline. Given his standing as a two-way threat in his prime, Pascal Siakam has come up as the type of player who could elevate Indiana into another tier of contention.
If Haliburton is out beyond the deadline, the Pacers may change their course and double down on the development of young players like Isaiah Jackson, Jalen Smith, Obi Toppin and rookie Jarace Walker. A decision to stand pat and not be buyers at the deadline could have a ripple effect on teams looking to move assets.
Will this impact Tyrese Haliburton’s All-Star standing?
After the first fan returns from NBA All-Star voting, Haliburton led all Eastern Conference guards with over 1 million votes. Thanks to his impressive play and ever-growing popularity, he has been viewed as a near-lock to represent the East as an All-Star starter.
Should Haliburton’s absence extend further than expected, what will it mean for the All-Star Game?
The Eastern Conference is robust with impressive guards, as Haliburton is just one name among a group that also includes Milwaukee’s Damian Lillard, Philadelphia’s Tyrese Maxey, Atlanta’s Trae Young, New York’s Jalen Brunson, Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell, and Boston’s duo of Jalen Brown and Derrick White.
If he’s unable to play, Haliburton will still get his deserved recognition as a starter but one of the above names will avoid being snubbed.
Will this be the first example of availability impacting All-NBA incentives?
A few stars have missed time this year but Haliburton’s injury comes after he has already established himself as a near-lock to earn an All-NBA selection this year. This is especially relevant for someone whose five-year contract jumps in total value to $260 million should he make an All-NBA team.
Per the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBA and its Players’ Association, a player must be on the floor for at least 20 minutes in 65 games to be eligible for All-NBA and MVP honors. In the case of an injury that is deemed “season-ending,” a player must play in 62 games.
At the time of his injury, Haliburton has missed three games. He will miss a minimum of eight more, bringing the maximum number of games he can appear in this season to 71.
Add in that Haliburton was limited to 13 minutes against Boston and the number dwindles to a maximum of 70. Should his absences exceed 17, the financial implications will serve as an example of whether or not there is a hard and fast rule regarding missed games and All-NBA consideration.
Source : ESPN.com