Should the San Antonio Spurs be concerned about Derrick White’s injury?

San Antonio Spurs Derrick White (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
San Antonio Spurs Derrick White (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

With Gregg Popovich stating San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White will miss time, I asked a doctor of physical therapy to give his analysis on his injury.

After Derrick White shined brightly in the Orlando bubble, it was later revealed that it came at a cost. Before he even began the restart games with the San Antonio Spurs, the third-year guard had dislocated the second toe on his left foot. Over 100 days after his summer surgery to correct the issue, White is still expected to miss some time as the Spurs begin training camp followed by preseason games in the next two weeks.

“Keldon, Derrick, and [Quinndary] have got their bumps and bruises. They won’t be with us to start,” said Coach Popovich during media availability on Tuesday. Derrick’s toe, Keldon’s foot, Q’s knee.” Popovich didn’t get any more specific about the nature of the injuries, only assuring he’s not sure when any of them will be available to rejoin team activities.

It’s unclear so far if White, Johnson, and Weatherspoon will only miss the start of training camp, preseason games, or the regular season, but that will likely be answered in the coming few days. For now, we can only look at the nature of White’s previous injury that still has him recovering and make an educated guess as to any potential implications.

Derrick certainly wasn’t affected by the dislocation in Orlando, putting up huge numbers of 18.9 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.3 rebounds in just under 30 minutes per game. The surgery, which successfully corrected his dislocated second toe, should mean White will be just fine long term, but I wanted to get more of an idea about why he still might not be fully recovered.

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I’ve reached out to Dr. Rajpal Brar in the past regarding injuries, most recently to get his thoughts on Russell Westbrook’s quad injury at the end of last season. Brar is a doctor of physical therapy and owner of 3CB Performance, a physical therapy center in Los Angeles.

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In looking into White’s injury, Dr. Brar explained that the most important factor in assessing the injury is the area of the toe in which the dislocation occurred.

“A dislocation at the base is typically higher severity,” said Brar. “What we don’t know is whether it was dislocated farther up the toe or at the base.”

In doing my own research, I couldn’t find any specifics regarding what exact area was dislocated, but the fact that he played through the injury is positive.

“The fact that he was allowed to play through it initially was a good sign,” said Dr. Brar. “It likely means there’s no danger of further damage.”

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Given this assessment and the fact that Popovich described Derrick’s injuries as “bumps and bruises”, I think Spurs fans can rest easy knowing that White should be back to his usual, tooth-chipping self before too long. If there’s any team that knows how to be cautious, it’s the Spurs.

*Update (1/4/21) – Per Shams, Derrick White suffered a minor fracture on a toe on his left foot, and his return will be based on response to rehab. This is a new injury, separate from the previous toe injury.