By Ben Golliver
The Spurs just lost their second small forward in 72 hours.
Just days after starter Kawhi Leonard was lost for up to two weeks with knee tendinitis, the Spurs announced Monday that his replacement, Stephen Jackson, suffered a broken finger that will cause him to miss four-to-six weeks. The injury, to the pinky on his right (shooting hand), will cause him to be sidelined between 15 and 22 games, depending on which spectrum of the timetable he follows.
Jackson started Monday night's game against the Clippers but departed with pain after just 11 minutes. He finished with a line of two points and two rebounds on one-for-three shooting.
Jackson, 34, is averaging 8.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals in 24.6 minutes per game this season for the Spurs. Acquired in a trade with the Warriors before last year's trade deadline, Jackson gives San Antonio a physical defensive presence on the perimeter. He can score a bit, too, but he's been off to a bit of a rocky start this season, shooting just 37.3 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from deep.
The Spurs have no other true small forwards on the roster. Coach Gregg Popovich's best immediate option is to rely heavily on three-guard combinations, pulling from a deep and talented group of backcourt players that includes Tony Parker, Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, Gary Neal and Patty Mills. Green, at 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, is the biggest member of that group, leaving the Spurs extremely vulnerable to big, scoring wings.
The Spurs are currently at 14 players on their roster and could use their available roster spot to pursue a short-term solution until Leonard returns, at which point Poppovich would be wise to play him as many minutes as he can handle. Entering Monday, the Spurs were 8-2, good for second-best in the Western Conference.