NBA rumors: Domantas Sabonis dodges surgery, avoids long Kings absence

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Report: Domas dodging thumb surgery to avoid 20-game absence originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Domantas Sabonis suffered a fractured right thumb during the Kings' Dec. 23 loss to the Washington Wizards, reportedly leading to talk within the organization about the star center having surgery.

That procedure, however, would result in Sabonis missing four to six weeks of game action, Anthony Slater and Sam Amick of The Athletic reported Thursday, citing a league source with knowledge of the situation. Sabonis is determined to avoid that, especially since he reportedly has been told he can be "functional," per Slater and Amick, while playing with the injury to his non-shooting hand.

Sabonis missed one game before returning for the Kings' 127-126 win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

“It’s been a long summer,” Sabonis told reporters after the game [h/t FOX 40]. "A lot of expectations. Everyone has put a lot of work in. Missing a large number of games just didn’t seem right. If I could play through it, that’s something I could try at least."

If Sabonis went through with the surgery and operated on the four-to-six-week timeline, he likely wouldn't be able to return until early February and would miss around 20 games. That would be devastating for the Kings, who stand in sixth place in the crowded Western Conference with an 18-15 record.

The Kings are three-and-a-half games behind the first-place Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans (both 22-12), but they're also just three games ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves (16-19), who are in 11th and on the outside of the playoff picture.

Sabonis played against Denver with a wrap around his right thumb. It didn't appear to affect him, as he posted 31 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while battling back-to-back NBA MVP Nikola Jokić for just about all 38 minutes he was on the floor. That raised Sabonis' season averages to 18.3 points, a league-leading 12.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game.

Sabonis' teammates appreciated the center grinding through the injury.

"He literally has a broken thumb," Kings guard De'Aaron Fox said Wednesday. "Going out there and playing through that type of pain against [Jokić] … He goes out there, he fights, he still rebounds knowing that hand is going to get caught in there and get hit, get banged in this game.

"He still went out there. It just shows his toughness. He wants to win."

RELATED: Kings Twitter avenges Nuggets trolling the victory beam

Sabonis' determination to play through pain should bolster his All-Star résumé, as he's already looked like a shoo-in for the NBA's annual showcase in February before the injury.