Milwaukee Bucks’ Carlos Delfino likely out for season after setback in recovery from broken foot

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Carlos Delfino hasn't suited up for the Milwaukee Bucks yet this season, as he's been hobbled by a fracture in his right foot that he suffered while playing for the Houston Rockets last season. The 31-year-old swingman agreeed to terms to return to Milwaukee in July, but suffered a setback in his recovery from the fracture shortly before the Bucks opened training camp, rendering him sidelined indefinitely and leaving his expected return date an open question. Well, it seems now that the question's been answered ... but we don't expect Bucks fans to be too thrilled about the update.

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From Frank Madden at Bucks blog BrewHoop:

The first surgery came back in May, when Delfino had a metal plate and two vertical screws placed on the bone to promote the healing of the fracture in his right foot. In the story on his Spanish-language site, the Argentinian forward says that he traveled to North Carolina with Bucks team physician Michael Gordon for a status update and for more tests on his foot last week, but the results weren't positive:

"The fact is that the fracture that was found in August [had] a setback in recovery. It's still there and I have to go to the operating room again to try to resolve the situation," said the player. [...]

"I'm frustrated because I did all of my [rehab] duties, but my body did not respond as expected ... I remain optimistic," said Carlos, who is totally confident. [...]

"Now I have to be calm and open to the choice of the professional who can help in the recovery from my injury. This was worse than I expected but I'm sure I'll return to the court."

As Madden notes, continuing to operate without Delfino's services isn't the worst thing in the world for the Bucks, who now have more options at the three than they did when they signed Delfino to a three-year, $9.75 million contract. Milwaukee general manager John Hammond added veteran small forward and hometown star Caron Butler in trade in late August, and he's averaged just under 31 minutes, 13 points and seven rebounds per game in five contests thus far this season (albeit on 37 percent shooting from the floor).

The Bucks also appear to have found a positive contributor in second-year player Khris Middleton, whom the team landed in the Brandon Knight/Brandon Jennings deal and who's played well defensively and shown some signs of being able to hit from the perimeter, albeit in limited opportunities. And then, of course, there is 18-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo, of whom everyone would like to see more, but whom Hammond and new Bucks head coach Larry Drew have been unwilling to use in big stints — the enticing Greek prospect's averaging just over 11 minutes per game, and received DNP-CDs in consecutive games against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Dallas Mavericks. Shooting guards O.J. Mayo and Gary Neal could also spend a bit more time on the wing in small-ball lineups as dictated by matchups, although it's unlikely that Drew will go to that particular well too heavily.

So, yes — there are options on the wing. Still, closing the door just about completely on getting anything out of Delfino this year hurts the Bucks in both the short term, as they struggle to find complementary playmaking with starting point guard Brandon Knight just returning from injury and backup Luke Ridnour sidelined by back spasms, and in the longer term, as they figure to need an added jolt of long-range shooting to help space the floor once Mayo and Neal inevitably cool down after opening the season a combined 23 of 41 from 3-point land.

With Delfino likely to miss the remainder of the season, the Bucks could find themselves in the market for another wing bomber as they continue their annual push toward the lower reaches of the East's playoff bracket, but with the team standing only about $2 million shy of the salary cap as presently constituted and Bucks ownership unlikely to be interested in adding much more payroll on top of what's already committed, they might not be able to make much of a dent in whatever market winds up developing as we near February's trade deadline. While Butler's capable of holding down the fort, and the Middleton-Antetokounmpo duo could certainly use the minutes to continue to develop, that's where getting nothing out of Delfino this season might wind up coming back to bite Milwaukee as the season progresses.

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Dan Devine

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