The Minnesota Timberwolves will be without Nikola Pekovic for at least a week after the big man was diagnosed with bursitis in his right Achilles tendon.
Pekovic left Monday’s game against the Bulls after only six minutes when he felt soreness in his right Achilles, and he didn’t return. He underwent an MRI on Tuesday that revealed the condition, and doctors expect Pekovic to be sidelined for seven to 10 days before he’ll be re-evaluated.
Pekovic has been a model of consistency for the Timberwolves, as he’s played in all 44 games this season, a streak that will end Wednesday against the Pelicans.He’s averaging 18 points a game and leads the NBA in second-chance points and points in the paint, so his presence will be missed. Gorgui Dieng and Dante Cunningham are expected to see more minutes in Pekovic’s absence.
Dr. Silverman discusses Achilles Bursitis
I broke down Achilles bursitis in detail after a reader asked a question
about the condition, but I’ll recap the main points and explain how it will affect Pekovic.
Achilles bursitis occurs when the bursa sac swells up. The bursa sac is filled with lubricating fluid that decreases friction between the bones and Achilles tendon, and it often becomes aggravated by running or related activities that put stress on the Achilles. Inflammation begins behind the Calcaneus bone, which results in posterior heel pain. If the bursa sac chronically swells then recovers, insertional Achilles tendon tearing can occur. Over time, the minor tears can lead to calcification and functional tears of the Achilles and surrounding tissue.
It appears that Pekovic will avoid surgery for the time being, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually went under the knife. Some of the ways Achilles bursitis is managed non-surgically include:
- Heel lifts, which prevent ankle dorsiflexion.
- A foot cast or boot, to relieve pressure on the degenerative tearing.
The problem with Achilles bursitis is that oftentimes scar tissue has developed in the affected area. When this occurs, patients will have to accept a decrease in intense, chronic activity to prevent the pain from returning. You can see why this would be problematic for an NBA player.
If Pekovic simply relies on non-surgical management, I believe this won’t be the only stretch of games he’ll miss the rest of the season. He can try to fight through the pain and discomfort, but he’ll be risking even more damage.Surgery would mean he would be sidelined for more games, but it would minimize the likelihood of suffering recurring inflammation. Since the Timberwolves just signed him to a five-year, $60 million contract, their best move to protect their long-term asset would be to seriously consider preforming the operation. Is getting in as the 8th seed really that valuable if you lose one of your biggest assets for longer stretches in the future? I don’t believe it is.
I really hope the Timberwolves evaluate their options with Pekovic. I don’t want to look back on this and think, “I told you so.”
Related source: CBS Minnesota, Fox Sports