ESPN’s Chris Forsberg recently reported that Celtics prospect Guerschon Yabusele underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his feet and is unlikely to be ready to play for the Boston Summer League team.
Bad news Dancing Bear fans: Guerschon Yabusele is likely to miss summer league after undergoing minor foot surgery.https://t.co/Cl1SmGH6jx— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) May 22, 2017
The surgery is not considered to be particularly serious, but it is a bit of bad timing. Yabusele is an intriguing player, an uncommon mix of size, explosiveness, and touch. He spent the past year in China and a very brief stint in Maine with the Celtics D-League affiliate Red Claws.
He’s shown flashes of potential in those places, but it’s been difficult to determine just how those flashes might translate at the game’s highest level. Summer League could have served as a barometer, but it appears the opportunity to use it as such has disappeared.
That’s an unfortunate reality for a Celtics team and front office that will be in need of big-man depth this offseason, particularly as the they look to trim salary to create max cap space. Yabusele, who was selected sixteenth overall last year, would be on a cheap rookie deal, making just a hair over $1.5 million.
If the Dancing Bear can provide decent production as a backup big, Boston would be able to spend that money elsewhere. That’s very much a hypothetical situation at the moment and Yabusele’s injury has made making a determination on whether or not it is likely to become a reality significantly more challenging.
It’s also opened up the possibility of ongoing injury concerns. Let’s be clear here: there are no reports suggesting that Yabusele is going to be susceptible to prolonged injury, but there is a history of troubling foot issues in the NBA, particularly among big men. Yabusele’s hulking frame doesn’t do much to curb that fear. He’s been blessed with incredible body control and explosiveness for a man of his size, but that doesn’t make the pounding that his joints and feet take because of his girth any less severe.
Let’s not get overly concerned about long-term injuries though. There is a more fundamental challenge facing the Celtics in the present. It is that Boston has lost its best chance to evaluate whether or not Yabusele can be a meaningful contributor next year. The stakes may seem fairly low given his relative inexperience, but this might be the most important summer the Celtics have for the next decade. In addition to the #1 pick, the Celtics have three second round selections and Ante Zizic and Abdel Nader to consider. It will shape the short and long-term courses of their franchise substantially. Every bit of intel they can gather is critical.