Pacers' Domantas Sabonis Ankle Injury Suffered vs. Lakers Likely 'Significant'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 20, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 17: Domantas Sabonis #11 of the Indiana Pacers looks on during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Crypto.com Arena on January 17, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said forward Domantas Sabonis suffered a left ankle sprain during Wednesday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers that's "probably going to be significant."

Carlisle said Sabonis, who posted a triple-double with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in 35 minutes, played through the injury to help secure the 111-104 victory, led by a key three-pointer with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter.

"He was not gonna come out of this game," Carlisle told reporters. "He was determined to help will us to the win along with Caris [LeVert] and the guys who were out there. ... The 3-point shot that Sabonis hit on the bad ankle was one of the big shots of the year and just a guy that was completely determined to pull us through this thing."

Sabonis suffered the injury in the fourth quarter after he landed on Russell Westbrook's foot as he came down from grabbing a rebound.

The 25-year-old Gonzaga product has been a force for the Pacers this season. He's averaged 19.0 points, 11.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.0 steals across 44 appearances and ranks 10th among all NBA players in FiveThirtyEight's WAR metric.

Unfortunately for the Pacers, his strong individual performance hasn't led to consistent team success, as they have posted a 16-29 record. And now the injuries are starting to mount.

Along with Sabonis, Myles Turner and T.J. Warren are both sidelined by foot injuries, while T.J. McConnell is out after undergoing hand surgery in December.

That's a significant amount of talent on the sideline, and their absences will make it difficult for Indiana to chase down a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

In the case of Sabonis and Turner, the injuries could also alter the Pacers' plans leading up to the 2022 NBA trade deadline on Feb. 10. Both players were heavily speculated about as being trade targets for contenders in the coming weeks.

Shams Charania and Bob Kravitz of The Athletic reported in December that Sabonis, Turner and guard Caris LeVert had all "garnered significant interest from rival teams" as Indiana weighed a potential rebuild amid its sluggish start to the campaign.

The good news for Indiana is that Turner is under contract for next season and Sabonis has two more years left on his deal, so it's not a now-or-never situation in terms of maximizing their value in a trade if the franchise begins looking toward the future.

Ideally for the Pacers, they would be able to reshape the depth around that frontcourt tandem, which is one of the NBA's best, and vault back toward contention next season. But this season's poor performance has put the front office in a difficult position in terms of weighing short-term hopes and long-term goals.

In the immediate future, the expected loss of Sabonis is a massive setback, with Indiana in the midst of playing seven games in 11 days.