Jonas Valanciunas Injury Scared Coach Casey
Organizations love it when their prized players show up early to workout and get ready for the season before they have to. However, the last thing any coach wants to hear in September is that a prized player was injured at one of those workouts. On Saturday, the Toronto Raptors rookie center, Jonas Valanciunas, scared head coach Dwane Casey and just about everyone else connected to the organization.
“It scared me because I was at the NBA head coaches meeting in Chicago and I get this email that he (Valanciunas) heard something pop,” said Casey.
“He was here Saturday morning shooting with (assistant coach) Scott Roth and he went up to go into his shot and he felt something pop and your first thought is it’s his Achilles tendon.”
A picture of Valanciunas wearing a walking boot made its way onto the internet and led to speculation that Valanciunas’ injury could be serious.
“At that time, I don’t think they knew what it was and the internet had the picture of his boot,” explained Casey. “They (coaches/trainers) didn’t know what it was and not to take chances, they put a boot on it.”
Any injury to Valanciunas is serious, however. The young center has been playing under FIBA rules his entire professional career and he has a lot to learn before the season gets underway.
“It’s huge, especially for JV as he has so much to learn as far as the nuance of the NBA,” continued Casey. “We don’t want him to miss any workouts just because of the terminology and the speed of the game; he has so much to learn.”
Fortunately for the Raptors, the injury is much less serious than it could have been and Valanciunas is already showing signs of progress.
“It was a strain,” said Casey. “I am not going to get into the medical terms, but it’s something he may be out – I don’t know what the timetable is going to be – but it is not serious. It is not season-ending or anything like that.
“I want to use the word – tendon. I want to be correct on that, but it was more of a tendon that doesn’t really have a function in the body. So, I don’t want to get into the medical terms, but that is what I understood.
“I didn’t know at the time if it was something that should really concern me, but hearing what the doctors diagnoses is now, I am less concerned than I was when I first heard it.
“He is moving much better today, so it’s not something I think is going to keep him out for a long period of time.”
As of now, it looks like the Raptors may have dodged a potentially serious injury to their fifth overall draft pick of 2011, but as Casey described, the Raptors do not know when Valanciunas will be able to practice again and it is only one more week until training camp opens. While, Valanciunas’ season may not be in any danger, missing any part of training camp or preseason is not good for a rookie and the Raptors are counting on the quick development of their young center as part of this team’s playoff aspirations.