The Cleveland Cavaliers have been on a roll of late, ripping off nine straight wins behind MVP-caliber play from LeBron James and an improving defense to rise up the Eastern Conference standings. The three-time-defending Eastern champs took a hit on Thursday, though.
Just before their visit to Philips Arena to take on the Atlanta Hawks, the Cavs announced that swingman Iman Shumpert needs arthroscopic surgery on his ailing left knee. Officially termed a “left knee effusion,” otherwise known as fluid build-up or “water on the knee,” the issue has been causing Shumpert discomfort for a while now — he’s missed four of the last five games, and logged just seven minutes in Monday’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers before being re-evaluated by team doctors on Tuesday — so he’ll go under the knife on Friday morning in Cleveland in hopes of addressing the root cause of the symptoms that have been bothering him.
The Cavs said a timetable for Shumpert’s return wouldn’t be provided until after Friday’s procedure, but league sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the 27-year-old wing could miss six to eight weeks — a span that could cost him between 20 and 25 games, and potentially both meetings with the rival Golden State Warriors.
Shumpert has in the past been a key perimeter defender for the Cavaliers, and earlier this season served as an emergency point guard and secondary ball-handler when Cleveland was without injured lead guards Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon. He has struggled to get on track this season, averaging 4.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.7 steals in 20.8 minutes per game while shooting just 38.6 percent from the field and 28 percent from the 3-point line. He’s taken a step back in the Cavs’ perimeter rotation, with J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver manning the two-guard spot while Calderon and Dwyane Wade share initiating duties with LeBron.
A first-round pick of the New York Knicks in 2011, Shumpert will have now missed significant time due to injury in four of his seven pro seasons. He holds an $11 million player option for the 2018-19 NBA season.
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