Brandon Rush is out for the rest of the 2012-13 season with a torn left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the Warriors announced. Saturday’s MRI confirmed what many already suspected after Rush injured his knee in the first quarter of Friday’s 104-94 loss to Memphis.
Members of the organization described Rush as devastated and distraught. But it seems the fifth-year swingman is resolved to make a return.
“Been thru this before. Just gonna make me an all-around better player,” Rush said through is Twitter feed.
Surgery is not yet scheduled but Rush is expected to make a full recovery. He tore his right ACL in 2007 while playing for the University of Kansas.
Rush is due to make $4 million this season and next season as part of the two-year deal he signed with the Warriors this offseason. He was hoping to play well enough to opt out and sign a more lucrative deal next offseason. The way he was playing, it appeared as if he was on the path to do just that.
Rush’s absence for the remainder of the season means the Warriors are without their best perimeter defender and their primary offensive weapon off the bench. Rush posted career highs last season in scoring (9.8), field goal percentage (50.1) and 3-point field goal percentage (45.2). The way he looked this season, he seemed to be well on his way to another productive campaign.
Now what do the Warriors do? Here are a few options:
* Golden State doesn’t have a roster spot available, but they could sign a player using the Disabled Player Exception. Despite being over the cap, the Warriors would be able to sign a player for $2 million (half of the salary of the disabled player). Some of the options available are Josh Howard, Ryan Gomes, Donte Green, Delonte West and … wait for it … Mickael Pietrus.
* The Warriors can look to make a trade. Perhaps dangling second-year F/C Jeremy Tyler could get them some action. Think Toronto might part with Dominic McGuire, last year’s defensive specialist off the bench?
* They could also stand pat. With no Brandon Rush in the lineup, that probably means more minutes (and less pressure) for rookie Harrison Barnes. It means leaning on veteran Richard Jefferson more. Maybe the Warriors hold off on doing anything, since whoever comes in will likely need time to adjust and get acclimated, and see how Barnes responds. See if Richard Jefferson steps up. See if rookies Draymond Green or Kent Bazemore can pick up some of the slack.
Watch tonight to see if Barnes looks a little more relax, and if coach Mark Jackson sticks with him longer. And when he comes out, watch to see who Jackson turns to: the experience veteran (Jefferson) or the talented rookie (Green)?
Here are more things to watch for tonight:
Expect Jackson to use his three-guard lineup (PG Jarrett Jack, SG Stephen Curry and SF Klay Thompson). And not just because Rush is out. But because Chris Paul is a beast. Curry, at this point, is too important to the Warriors offense to have him on CP3 the whole night. Paul is physical, aggressive, cagy. It’s a tough match-up for Curry, even though Jackson said Curry and Klay have been the best defenders. Not to mention, CP3 is a VERY aggressive defender. You might even call him a hack. Curry hasn’t looked too steady against pressure. So moving him off the ball, lightening his load, may be in order.
Jack, who serves as a floor general type of PG when he’s in the game, has the make-up for such a challenge without hurting the offense. Plus, he and Paul have history having played together in New Orleans, often together down the stretch.
Of course, that leaves Curry defending Jamal Crawford, who gets most of the Clippers minutes at SG. Considering Curry’s ankle history, that might not be the best idea.
* The David Lee-Blake Griffin match-up should be interesting. Lee hasn’t looked too good this season, but he usually plays well against Blake. The reality is Blake is not a great defender. And Lee is so concerned about not getting posterized that he is usually pretty focused and on the game plan against Blake.
Griffin is going to get his numbers. The key is for Lee to show in a big way and offset that. But if he isn’t playing well early, watch to see if Landry gets the lion’s share of minutes at PF. Lee can still play C, because DeAndre Jordan, the one good center the Clippers have on the roster, doesn’t play huge minutes usually. Even if he does, the Warriors don’t have to worry about Los Angeles dumping the ball to him. So playing Landry and Lee doesn’t hurt the Warriors so much on the defensive end.