The LA Clippers’ Danilo Gallinari is not the first player to play hurt and he won’t be the last one.
Danilo Gallinari left early in the loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday, but it’s what he said afterward that grows concern. He told media that he had hurt his hip a week ago and that he was planning on playing the next game after not coming out in the second half.
The LA Clippers are a revamped team searching for their identity. They are in a precarious position because they did not strip down and rebuild, but instead retooled the roster. Gallinari came to the team after missing large chunks of games in his career to injury.
Gallinari is less than 10 games in and is already dealing with injury. The Clippers will make the judgement call to play him if they think he’s capable or sit him and let him heal. It brings into question playing a player when they are hurt. In Gallinari’s case, it is different because he has an injury history so the team should walk on the line of safety with their star forward.
While he is doubtful to play against the Spurs, the Clippers have invested over 60 million dollars in their beautiful Italian player and want to see him on the court. As a coach you are thinking about the now and winning. That is fine, but potentially losing their starting forward and putting more pressure on Blake Griffin is not the answer.
Gallinari is struggling to begin the season, but playing hurt for the past week likely isn’t helping his game. So far, he is averaging: 12.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.0 AST in 31.9 minutes of play.
Playing while hurt
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Players play often when hurt. Geez , even Austin Rivers had his dislocated finger popped back into place during a game. But, not all injuries are the same and while Rivers is able to continue to play, it brings into question Doc and his playing of others when it could potentially hurt their season and their space with the team.
Jared Dudley comes to mind when thinking about someone who spoke about playing injured for Doc Rivers. Dudley played one season for the Clippers and as he stated in an interview with Zach Lowe in 2015, he played hurt. He went as far as going to Rivers and asking him to sit until he could figure out what was wrong with his knee.
"I really couldn’t bend my knee 90 degrees… I went to Doc Rivers and say hey I never had to deal with this i can’t bend my knee, my shots are short, I can’t move laterally. i need to sit out"
The Clippers were already dealing with J.J Redick out, as well as Matt Barnes. Doc had a very interesting response:
"Hey I need you to give me 10 games, 10-15 games and when they come back ill give you a rest."
By mid-season, Dudley got an X-ray showing a fracture in his knee. Later, was traded after being “unproductive” for the team. A player knows his body and it’s sad when a player comes forward informing Doc that he needs to sit, and still asking to continue to play.
I would not place all blame on Doc, but his hands are not clean of the matter either. I hope Gallinari’s injury is handled with care and he is not asked to play when it could potentially hurt another part of his body having to compensate for the injury.
The Clippers have more money tied to Gallinari than they did with Dudley and while Dudley is a role player, Gallinari needs to make sure he is healthy as possible playing to limit future injuries.