It’s not a season-ending injury, but the wrist injury that former Kentucky standout Josh Harrellson suffered early in his first NBA season has left him really “depressed about it” according to his father, Doug Harrellson.
The New York Knicks rookie had surgery Monday on his right wrist and faces about a six-week recovery. He was hurt during an awkward fall at the end of the first overtime of Saturday night’s 119-114 double-overtime loss to Denver. Coach Mike D’Antoni said it was a “freaky” injury.
“You could see where he fell on it and then just snapped the bone, I guess, or snapped something. It was bad, it was freaky, but he did play another five minutes after that and shot a 3,” the coach told The Associated Press.
Harrellson was average 5.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 18 minutes per game when he was hurt.
“They had cut him loose to shoot the 3-ball,” Doug Harrellson said. “He had been doing great, which is why he’s really depressed about it. He was doing really well. It’s just a shame this had to happen. Six weeks to be out is a big hunk of this (strike shortened) season. He is down in the dumps about it. But he’ll keep working, will stay in shape and everything will eventually be fine. He’ll be back in six weeks unless they cut him loose sooner to play.”
Josh Harrellson had been one of the more surprising stories in the early NBA season. He was a second round draft pick of New Orleans and was traded to New York. That came after a surprising senior season at UK when he went from a seldom-used reserve in John Calipari’s first season at Kentucky to a starting center on a Final Four team.
Two years ago it was really depressing when he was not getting much playing time,” Doug Harrellson said. “I felt he had the potential to do a lot more. I kind of knew what he could do if given the chance. When he got his time to shine, he shined. So am I surprised he has gone from where he was two years ago to where he is now, no. It’s a big turnaround, but I?knew he had it in him and so did he.
“I am not surprised he was doing well this year, either, because of his work ethic. He carries himself so well now. I think he might have performed above expectations others had for him this year, but I was sure he was going to do well and so was he.”
Harrellson and his wife have not been able to see their son play in person yet, but they plan on doing so when he gets back on the court. That’s why he did not know his son was injured until he got a phone call telling him.
“He kept playing after he was hurt. He’s a tough kid,” Doug Harrellson said.
Harrellson is a also a popular kid in New York.
“He doesn’t get a lot of time to really get out and do anything. They have so much practice and so many games going on, that there is not time to do a lot,” Doug Harrellson said. “It’s a hectic schedule and I would think he will still be traveling with the team and doing all the workouts he can. He just won’t be shooting the ball for a few more weeks.
“But he has become a very big fan favorite already. The first game he started on New Year’s Eve, he had 14 points and 12 rebounds. He had been shining ever since and doing really well. He was making lots of shots and doing very well on his defense and getting lots of rebounds.”
Doug Harrellson isn’t sure how much interaction his son has had been able to have with former UK teammates now playing in the NBA during the first month of the league season.
“I have seen him on TV talking to former teammates on the court,” Doug Harrellson said. “I am not sure if he gets to meet up with them very much because the schedule is so hectic. I just don’t know if he has any free time to mingle.”
However, he knows his son still has fans at Kentucky following him, too.
“Kentucky fans have been so good to him and he truly appreciates the support he got at Kentucky and still is getting,” Doug Harrellson said. “He’s down now, but he’ll be back and the support he gets from all the Kentucky fans really helps at a time like this, too.”