What Does Out Indefinitely Mean In The NBA?

In 2012, the Chicago Bulls were the No. 1 Seed and heavily favored in the Eastern Conference to match up with the Miami Heat Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.

However, the 2011 Season MVP Derrick Rose suffered a torn ACL in the first game of the first round of the 2012 playoffs, and he was tagged ‘out indefinitely.’

In six games, his team soon collapsed and lost in against the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers. There are many instances of NBA players suffering injuries and being out for some time, which is marked as out indefinitely. But what does being out indefinitely actually mean?

In the NBA, being out indefinitely means that a player suffered an injury and is unavailable to play for an undetermined time. Usually, there is no timetable to return due to some injuries being too delicate to handle and can potentially end a player’s career.

What Does Out Indefinitely Mean in the NBA?

If a player is marked as out indefinitely in the NBA, it means that the player is out due to an injury or illness for a certain amount of time, which at the time of announcement doesn’t have a timetable for return.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some players who entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols are sidelined indefinitely and marked as out indefinitely.

Some players tagged as out indefinitely can last from a few weeks or months to more than a few years. The worst-case scenario is for players to never return to their old selves and even force them to retire, as we’ve seen with Derrick Rose, Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, and Grant Hill.

How Long do Injuries Commonly Last?

Type of InjuryCommon Timeline of RecoveryTreatment and Recovery
1. Ankle Injury– Few weeks to a few months– Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) – May require surgery for severe cases.
2. Knee Injury (ACL and MCL Tears)– Six months to one year– Surgery and rehabilitation
3. Facial Injury– One to two weeks– Rest – Stitches for injuries with cuts
4. Foot Fractures– Four to six weeks– Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE)  
5. Hand/Wrist Injuries– Two weeks to three months– Splinting – May require surgery for severe cases

Common Types of Injuries and Expected Length to Recover

Paul Pierce Injury (16453185750)
Paul Pierce Injury by Keith Allison

1. Ankle Injury

Ankle injuries are the most common injuries among basketball players and other sports. Most ankle injuries happen due to blows or twists. It is also common to see players suffer ankle sprains after stepping on other players’ feet.

During the early years of Stephen Curry, from 2009, he suffered multiple recurring ankle injuries that limited his production with the Golden State Warriors. Besides Curry, Grant Hill was a promising superstar poised to replace Michael Jordan. However, his ankle injuries became his limiting factor.

2. Knee Injury

Knee injuries, including ACL and MCL tears, are some of the most serious and career-threatening injuries in the NBA. These knee injuries happen due to sudden stops and explosive playstyles.

Some of the players that suffered career-ending knee injuries are Derrick Rose (torn ACL), Greg Oden (fractured patella), and Brandon Roy (meniscus tear).

Imagine the 2010s East with Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls challenging the Miami Heat Big 3. Then think about the potential Portland Trailblazers’ Dynasty of Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Greg Oden in the West.

3. Facial Injury

Another vulnerable part of the players is their faces which are constantly exposed. With many hands trying aiming to get their hands on the ball, it is common for players to get elbowed in the face, break their nose, or get poked in the eyeballs.

Some of the players with memorable facial injuries are Steve Nash (broken his nose on multiple occasions), James Harden (poked eye), and recently, Joel Embiid (fractured orbital bone).

Before a player returns due to a facial injury, they are required to wear a facemask.

4. Foot Fractures

Aside from the frequent ankle injuries that are very common among basketball players, foot fractures are also quite common. It can be caused by stress fractures from falls, twisting, or flatfootedness.

Yao Ming’s career may have some glimpse of brilliance and stellar play. Unfortunately, his foot injuries caused him to miss many games in a season, eventually forcing him to retire after only nine seasons.

5. Hand/Finger/Wrist Injuries

Basketball is primarily played with both hands, so it is no surprise when players injure their hands, fingers, or wrists. Jammed fingers are common, but players can play through the pain.

Kobe Bryant is known to be a warrior on the court, playing through injuries out of love for the game, including playing with a fractured finger during the 2009-10 Season.

What Does a Day-To-Day Injury Mean?

Player holding his injured knee

A player with a day-to-day injury status is quite similar to being out indefinitely. The player will also likely miss several games while undergoing injury evaluation with no return timetable.

However, after the official diagnosis, a player can be changed from day to day to being out indefinitely.

Are NBA Players Still Paid Even When Injured?

NBA Players with guaranteed contracts are paid even if they are injured due to basketball-related activities. We often see injured players who never played in a season continuously receive their million-dollar paychecks.

However, some player contracts include clauses stating that a player injured outside basketball will not be paid.


Nobody wants to see a player go down in an injury, but unfortunately, injuries are part of the game we all love. We’ve seen players with a high ceiling like Derrick Rose and Grant Hill get injured and never return to their peak form.

However, we’ve also seen players who bounced back better than ever, like Kevin Durant’s recovery from an Achilles tear and Klay Thompson’s redemption season after winning the 2021-22 Championship.

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