It is déjà vu all over again for Trailblazers fans as 2007 #1 overall pick Greg Oden will once again miss the entire season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee. Oden underwent the same procedure in 2007 on his right knee. The latest procedure is unrelated to the fractured left kneecap that had sidelined Oden up to this point. Unfortunately a recent MRI revealed cartilage damage to the surface of the femur and the Portland medical staff felt microfracture surgery was the best option.
Mircofracture surgery is an arthroscopic knee procedure usually carried out when damage has been sustained to specific type of cartilage known as articular or hyaline cartilage. Hyaline cartilage is smooth cartilage that covers the weight bearing aspect of certain bones like the femur, tibia, and fibula in the knee. The makeup of the cartilage allows it be virtually frictionless and at the same time able to withstand high loads of force. If a defect develops in the cartilage the knee may result in pain, swelling, and a catching sensation because the joint can longer move as smoothly. Unfortunately this type of cartilage needs surgical intervention to fix.
In microfracture surgery the damaged cartilage is cleaned and prepped before tiny fractures are made in the bone with a surgical tool known as an awl. The body's natural defense system responds to the breaks and naturally creates marrow-filled blood clots to repair the damaged cartilage. As time passes, the microfractures are repaired and replaced with new cartilage. The replacement cartilage is not quite as durable as the original cartilage but is effective enough to allow an athlete to return to activity. The average recovery time for the surgery depends on the location of the procedure and for Oden's injury you are looking at anywhere from four to six months with eight months to a year more likely. Amar'e Stoudemire attempted to return five months after undergoing the procedure in October of 2005. His comeback lasted three games before he was shut down. Stoudemire returned to action the following season, playing in all 82 games.
Oden's NBA future remains cloudy. Portland failed to offer the big man a contract extension and he will become a restricted free agent in the offseason. He is obviously no longer a fantasy producer and has little value in keeper leagues. Marcus Camby remains a valuable fantasy commodity, as he will continue to man the center position. Camby tweaked an ankle earlier in the week but was active for Thursday's win over Denver. The center position will also be bolstered by the impending return of Joel Pryzbilla, out since the start of the season recovering from a ruptured patellar tendon.
The shocking news surrounding Oden has somewhat overshadowed the fact that Portland's leading scorer, Brandon Roy, is also dealing with a significant knee injury. Roy is suffering from pain and swelling in his left knee. The inflammation is occurring because the meniscus pads within the knee are nonexistent. The menisci are fibrocartilage disks designed to serve as a buffer between the femur and the tibia and fibula. Unfortunately for Roy the menisci in the left knee are worn down and his femur is making direct contact with his lower leg bones. The grind of bone-on-bone is resulting an inflammation that is limiting Roy's range of motion. To complicate the issue, bone-on-bone grinding usually results in chronic arthritis and the knee remains inflamed. The former All-Star is taking anti-inflammatory medication to combat the swelling since surgery is not option and will continue to have the knee evaluated. He has been a spectator for Portland's last two contests and will miss Saturday's game against the Jazz. The Blazers than have a five-day break that should allow Roy to rest and recuperate. He should be benched next week in weekly formats and is likely to yo-yo in and out of the lineup throughout the season.
Wesley Matthews has taken over for Roy and averaged 25 points since joining the starting lineup. He is a solid addition for the immediate future and could maintain that status should Roy's knee continue to be an issue.
The latest #1 overall pick is also sidelined with an injury as a foot sprain has kept Washington's John Wall in street clothes for two straight games. Wall suffered a strained left arch in a recent game against the Bulls. The foot is compromised of four arches, designed to support the body and absorb the various amounts of weight bearing associated with activity. Multiple ligaments help arrange the arches and can in fact be sprained if they are overstretched. The treatment is similar to that of a sprained ankle and the Washington medical staff will begin exercises to strengthen the area. The protocol will likely include exercises designed to lessen any extraneous stress placed on the foot and plantar fascia that may have developed due to the injury. Expect Wall to return to action in the near future with Kirk Hinrich or Gilbert Arenas shifting to the bench.
Golden State will be without their prized offseason acquisition as David Lee underwent a second surgery to flush out an infection in his left elbow. Lee injured the elbow when he collided with New York's Wilson Chandler and dislodged one of Chandler's teeth. The tooth caused a puncture wound in Lee's elbow that has since developed an infection. There is no way of telling where and when the infection came from but it is causing Lee considerable pain and swelling. The doctors will continue to monitor the wound and will likely irrigate the site several more times. Lee will also be given a steady stream of antibiotics.
The incident was remarkably similar to a collision last season between Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki and Sacramento's Carl Landry, who was with the Rockets at the time. The inadvertent elbow knocked out or cracked five of Landry's teeth, and opened a sizeable laceration on Nowitzki's elbow. Fortunately Nowitzki was able to avoid infection and missed just one game. Look for Lee to return in 10-to-14 days. Vladimir Radmanovic, Dan Gadzuric, and Brandon Wright have each been given an opportunity to start in Lee's absence but no one has proved to be effective. Radmanovic will likely to continue to start but is not fantasy relevant.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.