Oklahoma City guard Hamidou Diallo will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a hyperextension sprain in his right elbow, a tough setback for the second-year player after he had just returned from a knee injury.
Yet as soon as Diallo is healthy again, the Thunder plan to put him right back into the rotation.
“I feel bad for him just as I do for Andre (Roberson) or any of these guys,” coach Billy Donovan said. “... I think for Hami, going through what he went through last year, in the rotation, out of the rotation, down in the G League, back with us and then going in and having the summer he had, having the training camp he had, and then the early part of the season playing like he had been playing, yeah, I think your heart goes out to somebody that’s put that kind of work in and has made that kind of jump.
“I always say I think generally players make the biggest jump from their first year to their second year and he clearly has made a really good jump. You feel bad for him, but when he does come back there’s still going to be a lot of games left to play and a good, good portion of the season left. We’ve just got to make sure that mentally and physically he’s in a good place where we can help him continue to develop.”
The Thunder announced Diallo’s status before Monday night’s road game against the Warriors at Chase Center, saying he would be re-evaluated after that timeframe.
In Friday’s 130-127 home loss to the Lakers, Diallo left in the fourth quarter after taking contact from LeBron James on a driving lay-in early in the period.
Diallo was called for a foul on the play. Donovan challenged the play because James extended his elbow on the drive, causing Diallo to fall back. The call and the basket both stood, and James made the free throw.
On Friday, Diallo had just returned from a three-game absence for a sprained left knee. He has played in 12 games with one start, averaging 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 21.4 minutes.
“I think for him, being out for a couple games and then coming back and playing like he did, I think for any young player, the concern always for those guys is: ‘Where am I going to fit in? How am I going to fit in when I get back? Am I behind the 8-ball, am I the last guy?’” Donovan said. “And that’s not the case I think for our team. We need Hami and I told him that when he comes back we’re going to put him right back into the rotation and try to get him back to where he had been playing before the injury. He’s obviously got a little bit of a hole for himself to get himself healthy but I still feel once he can get back he cans still play an important role to our team.”