Rockets power forward Donatas Motiejunas has yet to play in the new year, missing the last two games with a recurrence of pain in his surgically repaired back. And now we learn he's going to be sidelined until further notice, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
"An MRI and other examinations on Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas' sore back in Houston on Monday did not show further damage, indicating that the setback in his ongoing return from last season's back surgery would not be too great. The Rockets could not, however, establish a timetable on his return until he is pain free."
Seeing D-Mo back on the sidelines is yet another curveball in a season where hardly anything has gone as planned, though setbacks like these are not uncommon among back surgery recipients.
Speaking as someone who's gone through a similar surgery also due to an injury sustained playing basketball (at a much, much lower level, of course), having these setbacks are often a very normal part of the full recovery process.
You usually don't know that you've pushed your recovery too far, too quickly until you've actually done it and that all-too recognizable wrenching pain returns. When that does happen, there's nothing left to do except more rest and rehab.
Many people can take up to a whole year or more to return to 100 percent after such a delicate surgery (everyone's different; the back is one of the trickiest recoveries to go through), so the fact that D-Mo is still not fully recovered should not be considered a massive surprise.
It is good news that the MRI came back clean, as that means Donuts' issue is likely just the straining of still recuperating muscles around the surgical area and nothing structurally wrong with his spine.
These types of setbacks usually have a bounce-back time anywhere from a few days to up to two weeks or so, so you can expect Motiejunas to miss at least a bit more time in his recovery.
And let's face it. Despite a few nice moments on the offensive end, D-Mo's mostly been a lead-footed Frankenstein on the defensive side and on the boards since his return, and certainly hasn't looked anything close to last year's breakout stud. This additional time off should be good for him.
Motiejunas is not expected to play Thursday night against the Jazz, which should open up more minutes for rookie big man Montrezl Harrell to build off of his performance last night against that same Utah squad, but hopefully we see D-Mo back on the court again sooner rather than later.