The Toronto Raptors received a big body blow on Monday with the news that star point guard Kyle Lowry is to have surgery on his right wrist.
The procedure to remove loose bodies from Lowry's wrist will be performed Tuesday, and the club hopes he will have enough time to recover and be available for the playoffs, which begin on April 15.
"Obviously it's a little disappointing for us," Raptors president Masai Ujiri said Monday afternoon in a conference call. "And we're also lucky, we're trying to get ahead of it, and hopefully there's a good time frame where he has the surgery and then we'll see how it goes."
"But when you lose a player like that for a certain amount of time – you know Kyle is an all-star player, he leads our team in minutes, he leads our team in almost everything – there's always going to be some sort of a disappointment there. But you know what? The team goes on, and we'll play our best and hold court until he gets back."
For the time being, Ujiri said, he will not be in the market for a replacement veteran point guard, saying he has confidence in the likes of Cory Joseph, who has started the past two games in Lowry's absence.
Lowry said he hurt his wrist during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on Feb. 15, when he scored 21 points to lead the Raptors to a 90-85 win.
It was Toronto's final game before the NBA all-star break.
But the injury did not prevent him from representing Toronto in the all-star game in New Orleans on Feb. 19, where he played 18 minutes for the Eastern Conference. Lowry was also a participant in the three-point shooting contest held the day before.
Ujiri said he would not second-guess Lowry's decision to play in the all-star game because, at the time, Lowry did not think his injury was that serious.
"I don't think that there's any bad optics here," Ujiri said. "Players sometimes feel pain [with this sort of injury] and sometimes they don't feel pain. Sometimes you feel that this thing is going to go away, and that's how we felt."
Ujiri said Lowry accompanied the team to New York and got a couple more medical opinions on the wrist Monday before the decision was made to opt for surgery.
He has been unable to play since the all-star game and has missed two games – both victories – against the Boston Celtics and the Portland Trail Blazers.
While DeMar DeRozan is Toronto's leading scorer, averaging 27.7 points heading into a Monday night game in New York against the Knicks, Lowry is considered the club's lifeblood. He has been averaging a career-high 22.8 points this season to go with 6.9 assists. He is also the team's best three-point shooting option.
Last week, the Raptors traded for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker to make a concerted push for the playoffs, but the news about Lowry will not help.
The Raptors carried a 35-24 record into the game against New York and sit in second place in the Atlantic Division, three games back of the Celtics.