Update 5:21 PM Pacific: Festus Ezeli made the following statement to Marc J. Spears of ESPN and The Undefeated.
Blazers center Festus Ezeli statement to @espn @theundefeated: "Everyone has moments of setback. It's unfortunate and disappointing that I am facing one of those right now. My aim is to fundamentally address issues that have lingered so that I can be the best that I can be, to help my team contend for and win the title. To all concerned I assure this, my love for the game nothing but ensures that I will be back better and stronger than ever and you can take that to the bank."
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts made a short statement before Saturday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors.
Terry Stotts declined to comment on reports about Festus Ezeli's pending knee surgery pic.twitter.com/9RpGoow72Q— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) December 18, 2016
According to Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW, surgery is still not a foregone conclusion:
Festus Ezeli about surgery on his left knee: "I don't know yet. We are still gathering information... talking to a lot of people."— Dwight Jaynes (@dwightjaynes) December 18, 2016
Original story follows.
Portland Trail Blazers center Festus Ezeli is likely to undergo season ending knee surgery, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical.
Vertical Sources: Portland center Festus Ezeli is likely to undergo season-ending surgery on his left knee. Finalizing procedure decision.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 17, 2016
Chris Haynes of ESPN confirms that Ezeli is giving the surgery legitimate consideration.
ESPN Sources tell myself, @ESPNSteinLine Portland center Festus Ezeli contemplating having a season-ending surgical procedure on left knee.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) December 17, 2016
Ezeli received injections of bone marrow aspirate concentrate in his troublesome left knee on August 23 and has not suited up for the Trail Blazers since. He was initially thought to need six weeks for recovery.
After Ezeli experienced a setback in mid-October, his timeline grew murky, and he sought a second opinion on his knee. This is the first update on his status since November.
Portland signed Ezeli to a two-year, $15.1M contract, with only $1.0M guaranteed in the second year, during 2016 NBA free agency. It is possible that he does not play a single game in a Trail Blazers uniform if surgery is needed.
In that case, the Trail Blazers may be able to recoup some of their losses, according to Bobby Marks of The Vertical:
Portland could be eligible to file for the Disabled Player Exception (DPE) if Ezeli is lost for the season. Exception would be worth $3.7m.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) December 17, 2016
This is further explained in the CBA FAQ.
Teams can apply for this exception from July 1 through January 15, and cannot apply after January 15. Once granted, the exception expires when a player is acquired, when the disabled player is traded or returns to the team, or on March 10 of that season, whichever comes first. This exception is granted on a season-by-season basis -- if the player will also be out the following season, the team needs to apply for this exception again the following season.
"This exception can only be granted to the team for which the player was playing when his injury or illness was known, or reasonably should have become known. A team cannot trade for an injured player and subsequently apply for a Disabled Player exception for that player."