Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo needs surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and is likely out until at least mid-January.
It is the first major injury of Adebayo's five pro seasons, pressing pause on a year that is currently seeing him average a career-best 18.7 points for Miami along with 10.2 rebounds per game.
Adebayo, an Olympic gold medalist this summer, was injured in Monday's loss to Denver before tests on Tuesday and Wednesday determined that he had torn the ulnar collateral ligament.
He shrugged off the injury after the game, insisting it was nothing.
"I'm all right," he said.
Turns out, he was anything but.
The timetable for his return is not expected to be finalised until after surgery, which has been scheduled for Sunday, though the initial prognosis from the team calls for him to miss around six weeks.
Such a timeframe would have Adebayo missing somewhere between 20 and 25 games.
It is a huge blow for Miami, who are already dealing with a depleted frontcourt because of Markieff Morris' neck injury. Wednesday's defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers marked the 12th that Morris has missed since he was injured in a dustup with Nikola Jokic in Denver last month, and there remains no timetable for his return.
Dewayne Dedmon is the only other big man on the Miami roster who has logged considerable minutes at center this season. The Heat have others who can play the spot, including 41-year-old Udonis Haslem and six-foot-five power forward P.J. Tucker.
Adebayo was one of three players who started all six games for the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics, where the Americans won gold. He led the team in rebounds, averaging 5.7 per game, plus averaged 6.3 points on 57 per cent shooting at the Games.