The Memphis Grizzlies now have taken their biggest hit yet this season with star guard Mike Conley the latest to land on the injury list.
The Grizzlies announced Tuesday that Conley will miss at least six weeks after being diagnosed with fractures of the transverse process bones in the vertebrae of his lower back. Conley will be re-evaluated in four weeks.
The guard signed a five-year, $153 million contract in July to stay with the Grizzlies.
Conley was hurt Monday night during the third quarter of a 104-85 loss to Charlotte after taking a charge from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He went down hard on his back and stayed on the floor in obvious pain before leaving the game. He did not return.
He is Memphis' leading scorer. He is averaging 19.2 points and 5.7 assists and has helped the Grizzlies to an 11-7 start putting them fifth in the Western Conference. Memphis plays at Toronto on Wednesday night.
Memphis also announced that Vince Carter strained his right hip flexor in the game against Charlotte. Carter left early in the fourth quarter and didn't return. He travelled with the Grizzlies to Toronto and is questionable for Wednesday night's game.
This is the franchise that set an NBA record using 28 players last season as injuries piled up, causing the Grizzlies to limp into the post-season as the No. 7 seed in the West before being swept by San Antonio. First-year coach David Fizdale has been busy mixing and matching lineups with a variety of injuries already this season.
The Grizzlies already had been playing without their top free agent signee this off-season with Chandler Parsons, who Memphis announced Nov. 20 would miss at least two weeks with a bone bruise in his left knee. Parsons, signed to a $94 million contract in July, has played only six games for Memphis and is averaging 7.7 points in those games.
Forward Brandan Wright had arthroscopic ankle surgery Nov. 15 to clean up his left ankle with no timetable for his return. He played only 12 games last season in his first with Memphis, and he hadn't played in a game since Oct. 6 in the preseason.
AP Basketball Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.