Al Jefferson's season with the Charlotte Hornets has taken another big hit that will leave the team without him for a minimum of six weeks. Earlier today, Jefferson was removed from the active list for tonight's game against the Los Angeles Clippers and underwent an MRI on his knee. During the game the team informed fans and media that Jefferson has torn his meniscus, via their team PR twitter account.
INJURY UPDATE: @hornets Al Jefferson will undergo arthroscopic surgery tomorrow to address a tear in the lateral meniscus of his right knee.— Charlotte Hornets PR (@HornetsPR) December 31, 2015
(2 of 3) Earlier today, Jefferson underwent an MRI which revealed the injury. Recovery time is expected to be approx 6 weeks. @hornets— Charlotte Hornets PR (@HornetsPR) December 31, 2015
(3 of 3) The procedure will be completed by @hornets Team Physician Dr. Marcus Cook at Novant Orthopedic Hospital in Charlotte.— Charlotte Hornets PR (@HornetsPR) December 31, 2015
This is a huge hit for the Hornets, because they're now without one of their key players for an even longer period of time. Jefferson had just returned to the lineup from an injury/suspension he received in November, and was coming off the bench as a rehab measure. Now, the Hornets will have to make due without him again, and this time it will be an even longer period of time. At a minimum, Jefferson will be back by February when the Hornets could be right in the middle of a playoff race. Not the best time to re-insert a high usage player.
Of course, that's assuming Jefferson comes back at all. The meniscus is a strange part of the knee and the recovery time varies from player to player. We saw with Eric Bledsoe that he's out for the season after tear his, but we also saw Derrick Rose return to play in the playoffs last season after having his entirely removed. Jefferson's recovery time will entirely depend on severity of the tear, and his recovery time.
As for how this effects the team from a playing standpoint. The Hornets managed without their big man for the beginning of December, but by the end of the month their offense was struggling. They missed that force down low that could bend a defense, and get a bucket almost seemingly at will. If Charlotte is going to keep up a playoff level of play then they'll need Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum to continue playing at an all-star level. They'll also need the rest of their roster to step up big.
Get well soon, Big Al.