The Sydney Kings have made the decision to play the remainder of the season without star big man Julian Khazzouh.
Khazzouh has been sidelined for the past 12 months after tearing a quadriceps tendon in a game last season.
The NBL ruling on eligible players for playoffs is that a player must have played at least eight games in the regular season, a number which is now unlikely for Khazzouh.
Instead of having Khazzouh back for the teams last month of games and not play finals the team concluded that it was best for the 30-year-old to focus on his recovery with the team’s medical staff instead of trying to return to the court.
“We support Julian and his quest to get himself right,” Kings Executive Director, Jeff Van Groningen said in a press release.
“We felt that the added pressure associated with the 8 game minimum threshold was unhelpful to Julian’s recovery process at this time.
“Julian has been an important part of the Sydney Kings organisation for a number of years, and losing him for the rest of the season is unfortunate. However, Julian’s health and welfare are paramount to us and we will continue to support him through this process.
Khazzouh had initially hoped to be back by late November and discussed this on the Aussie Hoopla podcast however Kings medical staff were never able to give him clearance.
Even as recently as this week Khazzouh was expected to join the team but he suffered a recent setback at training and was ordered to rest for two days, sparking rumours that he would not be back this season.
“It’s the first real injury I’ve had, and that’s why I can take the good with the bad, knowing I had a great run as far as injury,” the 30-year-old said to Fox Sports this week.
“I won’t lie, it’s been agonising, especially just trying to get range back in my leg. That was by far the most painful thing I’ve ever felt in my life. The injury itself was absolutely nothing compared to the rehab process and the amount of hours I’ve had to put in.
Khazzouh said thinks of his Mother and her fight with cancer in 2010 as a way to motivate him back to playing the game he loves. Khazzouh’s mother died while he was playing in Lebanon in 2010.
“My Mum was pretty ill for a lot of years battling breast cancer and I saw the fight she put up before she passed away.
“If someone can keep fighting like she did for so long, my injury is insignificant compared to trying to fight for your life. So that’s what I always draw on, knowing I can come back from anything.”
Khazzouh’s was the team captain from 2010 to 2012, he averaged 16.2 points and 9.7 rebounds over his last three seasons and was named to the All NBL First Team in both the 2010/11 and 2011/12 seasons.
Sydney had hopes of him being a much welcomed X-Factor come finals time, especially with the league deciding to move to a best of five format for the grand final. Being able to bring a rejuvenated big man like Khazzouh into the game would have given Sydney a clear advantage with teams unable to scout how the team plays with him in the line-up.
Instead, the Kings who have a 10-9 record will need to find a replacement for Khazzouh and find another way to stop their rapid drop from the top of the ladder.