The Bucks released a medical update on Michael Carter-Williams on Monday afternoon. As is the case most of the time any press release entitled “Medical Update” is sent, the news isn’t great:
Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams will undergo season-ending surgery on Thursday (Mar. 10) to repair the torn labrum in his left hip, General Manager John Hammond announced today. Surgery will be performed by Dr. Marc Philippon at The Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado. Recovery time for Carter-Williams is expected to be three months.
In 54 games (37 starts) this season, Carter-Williams has averaged 11.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, a team-high 5.2 assists and 1.48 steals in 30.5 minutes per contest.
The injury ostensibly occurred sometime before the team’s Leap Day contest against the Houston Rockets in conjunction with what the team referred to as patellar tendonitis. It’ll bring another abbreviated Bucks season to a close for the young point guard, who had a very… up-and-down experience that included being relegated to coming off of the bench along with Greg Monroe until his injury.
While it won’t shake up a starting lineup that now features O.J. Mayo as the nominal point guard, MCW’s injury opens significantly more playing time for Tyler Ennis as he tries to demonstrate that he belongs on an NBA team, as well as a potential rotation spot for Grievis Vasquez if he is, in fact, close to returning from ankle surgery as he said to Yahoo’s Marc Spears in mid-February:
Bucks point guard Greivis Vasquez told Yahoo Sports that he expects to return to action in 3-4 weeks after having ankle surgery in December.
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) February 13, 2016
In the meantime, MCW will head into another offseason with uncertainty hanging over him about his role with this Bucks team and their commitment to him going forward. He showed real value as an energy boost for the team’s otherwise lackluster second unit coming off of the bench, but the fact that he had to be sent there in the first place and the revelation of Point Giannis in his absence have thrown his role into question. The injury also means that Carter-Williams will only experience one full NBA offseason training program in his first three seasons (the other being eliminated by shoulder surgery after his rookie year). However much stock you put into that offseason time, another limited opportunity to develop his game surely won’t help a young player still trying to prove that he can be a starter in the NBA.
Jeremy, Nick, and Preston talked about the MCW conundrum in Sunday’s Bucksketball podcast (16:30-ish). While he won’t be able to finish out this season of his Bucks “tryout”, he still has one more year under his rookie deal before entering restricted free agency, meaning that if the team so choses they can audition him for another year (or part of it) before determining whether to make a long-term commitment to the player they thought highly enough of to pass on a potentially valuable Lakers’ first-round pick and exchange Brandon Knight for.
It’s questionable how much value MCW still retains or that the team can extract if they do choose to move on by trading him in the offseason or as next year’s deadline approaches, and this latest development certainly doesn’t lend any clarity to the situation. But as another unsettled season for the Bucks’ uneven point guard comes to a close, they’ll again be looking to the future to determine how a key investment will play out.