Mystery Surrounds Malik Hairston's Injury, Future With Olimpia Milano

via www.ilgiorno.it

Malik Hairston's waiting game isn't getting any easier to stomach as the days go by.

Neither are the question marks surrounding his immediate future in Italy.

The former 6-foot-6 swingman for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros who now calls Milan, Italy home with Olimpia Milano, nearly made it through a season overseas without having to be sidelined with an injury. But instead Hairston sits on the shelf wondering if he'll play again this season.

After undergoing surgery on his left Achilles' tendon in late December, the team announced this past week that further evaluation would be needed to determine Hairston's return to Olimpia Milano and would occur in the next two days.

That was on Wednesday.

Five days later Hairston is no closer to knowing if or when he will resume to a season where was averaging 13.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game in 10 games this season as he led Milano into the Top 16 of the Euroleague. While the teams' front office has yet to provide an update of Harrison's rehab process or general status on how his left Achilles' tendon is responding since the surgery, they do maintain Hairston should be ready to go for the Italian Cup Final Eight in February.

That is wishful thinking at this point, even to the extent where the team is actively searching for another addition to the roster to supplement Hairston's loss.

Over the weekend, multiple Italy-based media outlets reported Milano offered a contract to NBA free agent guard Luther Head, but the two sides were unable to agree on terms leaving head coach and professional pitchman Sergio Scariolo scrambling to fill the voids left by Danillo Gallinari -- who appeared in 7 games for Milano during the NBA lockout and returned to the Denver Nuggets -- and now Hairston.

Hairston has been here before. Dealing with an injury and uncertainty of an immediate future on the court is nothing new.

Prior to venturing overseas to play ball, the former Oregon Duck split the year between San Antonio and Austin in the D-League, where he earned an All-D-League Honorable mention by averaging 22.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 30 games for the Toros. In July, 2010, Hairston jumped at the chance to make guaranteed money for two seasons with the Italian League's defending champion Montepaschi Siena, and promptly asked San Antonio to release him from the final, non-guaranteed season of his contract.

The Spurs obliged and Hairston was Italy bound.

Despite averaging 10.3 points per game in the Italian League and 8.6 points per game in the Euroleague, Siena terminated his contract after only a month on the team due to injury concerns and lingering pain caused by a disc issue in Hairston's back. Siena believed the injury actually stemmed from his last season in the NBA and D-League, but a month later announced a new agreement with Hairston.

Eleven months later, Hairston officially signed with Milano and now looking back the experience he dealt with in Siena is starting to play itself out all over again.

Back then he wasn't sure if or when he would return to action, if at all with the organization who forcefully severed ties with Hairston over the injury only to re-structure his contract.

Now Hairston's Achilles and rest of his season with Milano is a mystery.

The same might be said about his future with the team.

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