By Ben Golliver
The Suns announced Thursday that center Marcin Gortat suffered a midfoot sprain of his right foot that is expected to sideline him for three-to-four weeks.
The injury occurred during the Suns' 98-71 home loss to the Raptors on Wednesday. With a little less than a minute remaining in the first quarter and Toronto leading 23-20, Gortat secured a defensive rebound and looked to move the ball up the court. After taking a single dribble, he stopped short, passing the ball to Goran Dragic as he tumbled to the ground in pain. Gortat left the game and did not return, finishing with eight points (on four-for-six shooting) and four rebounds in 11 minutes.
Gortat, 29, is averaging 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds in 61 games (all starts) this season.
There are no playoff implications to speak of for the Suns, who parted ways with coach Alvin Gentry and began a rebuilding effort under interim coach Lindsey Hunter. Phoenix currently has the third-worst record in the Western Conference at 21-40.
If Gortat misses three weeks, he will be sidelined for 11 games. If he misses four weeks, he will be unavailable for 14 games. There are only six weeks left in the regular season, though, so it's a safe assumption that the Suns will take a cautious approach in managing his return. In Gortat's absence, Hunter can turn to Jermaine O'Neal, who has missed time recently to attend to his daughter, and Hamed Haddadi, who was acquired from the Raptors in a trade deadline deal. Twin forwards Markieff and Marcus Morris, the latter of whom was acquired from the Rockets in a trade deadline move, should also see plenty of minutes over the next month.
Gortat, the Suns' leading rebounder, expressed some frustration earlier this season about his role in the team's offense and his name was included in some trade rumors at this year's deadline. The 2013-14 season represents the final year of Gortat's current contract, which will pay him $7.7 million.
Video via YouTube user Jeff Lopez