More surgery for Russell Byrd. What's it mean for this season?

Mike DeCourcy reports:

Coach Tom Izzo said he expects [Russell] Byrd to undergo surgery as soon as Friday to address an issue with his foot that developed while he was playing in high school. Byrd had surgery previously, but Izzo said the foot didn’t heal as had been hoped.

Izzo said with the recovery time Byrd faces, it might be unrealistic to expect him to return in time to salvage his freshman season.

"I still think if he came back in two months, would it be worth it?" Izzo said. "It might be until after Christmas before he’s even ready to practice, and then it could be two or weeks before he’d be in any kind of shape to play."

As far as Byrd's career goes, this should be a fairly minor setback.  DeCourcy talks about applying for a "medical hardship waiver," but this should, I think, just go down as a standard redshirt season.  He'll still have four full seasons to knock down jumpers for Izzo.

In confirming the report, Rexrode downplays the impact on the upcoming season, indicating that Byrd was a redshirt candidate.  I'm not so sure.  With MSU only returning four scholarship players on the perimeter, I think it's quite likely Tom Izzo would have utilized Byrd's sharpshooting abilities in limited doses this year.  With the injury, that possibility is basically eliminated.

More after the jump

That leaves MSU very talented but very thin at the guard spots.  Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers should certainly be 30-minute-per-game guys.  That leaves Korie Lucious and Keith Appling to fill the third perimeter spot and the extra minutes behind Lucas and Summers.  And Lucious may not be fully fit when the season starts.

Between Chris Allen's departure and the injuries to Lucious and Byrd, Austin Thornton and Mike Kebler have gone from preseason afterthoughts to potential contributors right out of the gate.  I'm not sure which guy will have the leg up.  Kebler was generally the more reliable player on the court last year (at least in terms of ball-handling and defense), but Thornton's superior bulk (Kebler's only an inch shorter) could give him the advantage since the open minutes will be more on the wing than at the point.

I had been fairly skeptical about the idea of Draymond Green playing at the 3 spot--I think he can defend other 3's, but guarding point guards off switches on picks is more of a stretch--but that's becoming a more and more likely scenario.  Green can certainly handle the ball more than competently enough to play out on the wing, and MSU should have sufficient depth inside (Delvon Roe, Derrick Nix, Garrick Sherman, Adreian Payne) to make it work for 10 minutes or so per game.  While defensive match-ups will still be a concern, hopefully he can create some mismatches on the other end--and imagine the team rebounding potential with Green and two legitimate bigs all on the court.

As compiled by Con-T, the list of players who have dealt with injuries this offseason is a long one:

Lucas – recovering from ruptured achilles
Lucious – arthroscopy for meniscus tear
Summers – "tweaked" knee
Byrd – broken foot (possible surgery)
Thornton – unspecified back injury (requiring brace)
Roe – offseason knee surgery
Sherman – screws removed from foot
Payne – recovering from separated dislocated shoulder

If everything goes to plan, everyone besides Byrd on that list will be at 100% by the time January rolls around.  We can only hope that the law of averages will dictate that the team doesn't suffer any further injuries of any significance once the season gets started.  There's still a very solid set of pieces available for Izzo to work with this season, but the margin continues to get smaller in terms of getting to the kind of 9- or 10-man rotation that his best teams have historically utilized.

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