An MRI scan on Danilo Gallinari produced the news the Denver Nuggets feared after it was revealed he suffered a right ankle sprain during the overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.
The injury comes as the Nuggets prepare to begin a seven-game homestand and it seems the Italian will miss all of the games at the Pepsi Center. His return date beyond that is still unknown.
Denver are six games back from the Houston Rockets and their imminent home stretch could give them a chance to make up some ground on James Harden and Co., and make a late push for the playoffs.
Article continues below
However, their task just got significantly harder after losing Gallinari, who was having a career year in Colorado; averaging 19.5 points, 2.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game.
The Nuggets face struggling franchises the Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns during the run at home and Gallinari's presence will be sorely missed.
As per the Denver Post, coach Michael Malone said it would be tough for the Nuggets and the 27-year-old forward. He said: "I feel bad for him. He was having a career year. It's always tough when you lose a player like Gallo for us because we're so young and he gives us so many things.
"But just for him, as a young man, because that's a lot to handle, and for him to hurt it and be out for a long period of time, it's not good for any of us. But we'll support him in every way we can, and hopefully, he can come back even better."
The Northwest Division outfit have not made the playoffs since the 2012-13 season when they lost 4-2 to Golden State in the first round. It seems unlikely they will catch up with the teams jostling for the final spot, but if they are to stand any chance, they need a strong run in their homestand.
With their first game approaching against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, Monroe is still not sure who will be replacing Gallinari in the starting five.
"I'm not sure right now, to be very honest," he said. "We could go with Will [Barton], we could go with JaKarr [Sampson], we could go with [Darrell Arthur]. We could go really small, we could go really big. So we have some options."
Gallinari will meet the team doctors over the coming days to come up with a plan to aid his recovery. There should be a better understanding of the length of absence in the "coming days", but the Italian himself admitted it felt worse than his injury in December - which led him to miss six games.