SAN FRANCISCO: Cavs rookie Tyler Zeller is out indefinitely after suffering a concussion and fractured cheekbone in Monday's victory against the Los Angeles Clippers, the team confirmed Wednesday.
Zeller returned to Cleveland on Wednesday for more tests after was hit on the left side of his face with an errant elbow from the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan with 5:39 left Monday night. Initial X-rays taken at the arena were negative, but a CT scan on Tuesday revealed the fracture.
Zeller's fracture is non-displaced, essentially meaning the pieces of the bone are still aligned. Non-displaced fractures typically heal a little faster, although there is no timeline yet for his return. He has been placed in the league's concussion program and will need to be cleared by a league doctor before he can return.
It's unclear which injury will keep hm out longer, but the Cavs have already discussed the likelihood of Zeller playing witha mask. He certainly won't play in tonight's game against the Warriors and he'd seem doubtful for Friday's game at Phoenix.
"The timing sucks," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "If there's any silver lining to the whole thing, it's early. Hopefully we'll have him back before this road trip is over."
Zeller was enjoying the best night of his young career prior to the injury with 15 points and seven rebounds. His absence likely makes an increased role for Samardo Samuels at both forward and center.
"The young fella has been playing really well, especially the last game, he was playing great," Scott said. "So there's a little bit of a monkey wrench in what we want to do tonight but it gives another guy another opportunity to step up and step in there and see if we can keep going."
Samuels has played sparingly this season, but said before shootaround this morning the game is coming easier to him now that he's beginning his third season.
Samuels has often been the offensive focal point of his teams since high school, but now he's embracing the idea of being a rebounder and physical defender. He even compared himself to Reggie Evans, the defensive thumper who now plays for the Brooklyn Nets.
"Rebound and defend, it's not that hard to do," Samuels said. "The last two years, I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself to score. But I'm more relaxed mentally just knowing all I have to do is rebound and defend. We've got scorers."