The Cavaliers announced Monday that rookie forward Anthony Bennett will be sidelined for roughly three weeks with a patellar tendon strain in his left knee.
Bennett, the 2013 No. 1 overall pick, is expected to miss Cleveland's next 11 games, and his estimated return date is roughly two weeks before the end of the 2013-14 regular season.
Cleveland has lost four straight games and now sits in the East's No. 11 seed with a record of 24-40, putting them 3.5 games out of the playoff picture with 18 games remaining.
The injury is the latest development in a year to forget for Bennett, who has struggled acclimating to the NBA level after spending last summer rehabilitating from a shoulder injury. The 20-year-old UNLV product has averaged 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.7 minutes in 51 appearances this season, shooting just 35.2 percent from the field. As of Monday, his 6.9 Player Efficiency Rating was the worst among rookies that have logged at least 450 minutes this season, and his net rating of minus-7 was was among the worst in Cleveland's rotation.
There has been some degree of progress for Bennett, who is averaging 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds since the All-Star break and has posted two double-doubles over the last month.
"He's been coming along," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said, according to the News-Herald. "He's had some pretty good games for us on both ends of the floor. [The injury is] tough with the amount of time we have left in the season, but it's part of this."
In recent games, Brown has used a starting frontline composed of center Spencer Hawes, who was acquired at the trade deadline from the Sixers, alongside forwards Luol Deng and Tristan Thompson. Bennett, big men Tyler Zeller and Anderson Varejao, and forward Alonzo Gee have all receiving minutes off the bench. Cleveland next plays at Phoenix on Wednesday.