Memphis Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. will be sidelined for four-to-six months after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot, the team announced on Thursday. It's unclear when or where the injury happened, but Jackson is expected to make a full recovery.
It's still too early in the process to know exactly how Jackson's foot will heal, and whether he'll return toward the beginning or end of that timeline. Even in a best-case scenario, however, Jackson will likely miss the beginning of next season. Four months from June 30 brings us to Oct. 30, and opening night is typically in the middle of October.
A more likely outcome, though, is that Jackson ends up missing a somewhat significant portion of the season. Given the general history of foot injuries for big men, and Jackson's own poor injury history, the Grizzlies will want to be as cautious as possible with his recovery.
Ironically, Jackson is coming off the healthiest season of his career, in which he played 78 games. Prior to that, however, he had played just 126 games in his first three seasons combined. He was shut down during his rookie season due to a deep thigh bruise and suffered a torn meniscus in the bubble which took much longer to recover from than expected. As a result, he missed nearly the entire 2020-21 season.
If the Grizzlies want to look on the bright side, the silver lining is that this injury happened during the offseason, which means barring another delayed rehab, Jackson shouldn't miss too much time. Still, this is the latest incident in a worrying trend regarding his health. To this point, he just hasn't proven that he can stay on the floor on a consistent basis.
That's a real shame because when he is healthy, Jackson is one of the best defensive big men in the league. He led the league in blocks last season with 2.3 per game, was a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year and made the All-Defensive First Team -- all despite being foul-prone and often having to sit for long stretches of games.
Jackson signed a four-year, $105 million extension with the Grizzlies prior to last season which will keep him in Memphis until 2026. He's a key part of this team's future, one which looks bright after their run to the second round of the playoffs last season. But in order for the Grizzlies to build on that success, they'll need Jackson to be able to stay on the floor.