At first, Marquese Chriss didn’t know his leg was broken.
Having gone up for a lob dunk during a scrimmage in Chicago last month, Chriss fell awkwardly on his right leg and thought he had rolled his ankle. Laughing at his embarrassment, Chriss attempted to get up and resume the practice.
“When it happened, it was weird. I’ve never gone into shock in my life,” Chriss said Monday, recalling that Dec. 26 scrimmage. “I was laughing, thinking I was OK. I thought I just rolled my ankle or whatever. Then they just started doing some evaluation stuff and when they pushed on the side of my fibula, it gave in a little bit. So that was when they realized it was broken.”
When Chriss may return, and his future with the organization that helped him resuscitate his career, is in question. On Dec. 31, Chriss, 23, underwent successful surgery to repair a fractured fibula and high ankle sprain in his right leg at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco. Chriss will be re-evaluated in about three months and will become a free agent after this season. All he can do now, however, is focus on his rehabilitation.
“I just want to attack the rehab the best I can,” Chriss said, “and get myself back to where I was at.”
Chriss, the No. 8 pick in the 2016 draft, had played for three teams in his first three years in the NBA before signing with the Warriors in training camp last season. Chriss emerged as the Warriors’ starting center by the end of the season, and averaged 9.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 59 games (21 starts).
He was settling into a role as a high-energy backup behind No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman when he got injured. The Warriors counted on him for reliable defense, good offensive positioning and comedic relief in the locker room.
“I love having Marquese on the team,” said head coach Steve Kerr, “and I feel bad for him because he was making great strides over the course of last year and in training camp this year.”
But with Wiseman the long-term answer at center, Looney under contract through 2022 and Eric Paschall emerging as a small-ball center who can anchor a second unit, it’s unclear where Chriss fits in beyond this season.
This hasn’t stopped Chriss from trying to find ways to contribute. Despite not being able to play, Chriss has remained around the team and doles out occasional advice to Wiseman, who was supplanted in the starting lineup by experienced center Kevon Looney prior to Monday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Chriss, who earned his spot on the roster last season in part because of his passing, screen-setting and timing with Stephen Curry, tries to impart that knowledge on Wiseman.
This has endeared Chriss to his teammates, the coaching staff and front office. No one, including Chriss, is ruling out a return to the Warriors this season, or beyond.
“I love being here,” Chriss said. “I think the team loves having me here. But they’re going to make the decision that they feel is best for the organization. Hopefully I’m a part of that.”
Here’s Marquese Chriss describing the moment he broke his leg during a scrimmage in Chicago last month. pic.twitter.com/P40UTduRlK
— Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg) January 26, 2021
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Author: Wes Goldberg