Just as Carlos Boozer was rounding into form and the Bulls were beginning to look like a legit contender in the East, another injury has occurred. Center Joakim Noah is expected to miss at least eight weeks after undergoing surgery on his injured right thumb.
The thumb is made up of three bones, the proximal and distal phalanxes and the first metacarpal. The proximal phalanx attaches to the metacarpal bone to form the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint. At the base of the proximal phalanx is the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), the primary stabilizer for the MCP joint. This ligament is often injured in baseball when a player gets hung up on a base while sliding headfirst. However basketball players can be susceptible to an injury if their thumb gets caught in a jersey or jammed by an oncoming basketball. Noah's injured occurred in a game against the Kings in late-November and was aggravated recently. The energetic big man attempted to play through the pain but a MRI revealed a significant tear in the UCL as well as torn ligaments in his right index finger and right ring finger. The Bulls medical staff elected to undergo surgery now to insure the integrity of the joint and minimize the pain. Fortunately the athletic training staff is familiar with this type of injury. Former point guard Kirk Hinrich underwent a similar procedure in his right thumb during the 2008-2009 season. Hinirch was sidelined for nine weeks.
The surgery was performed Thursday morning and considered a success. Fortunately the finger sprains did not require surgery. Instead Noah has begun
a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) infusion in attempt to speed up the healing process. In the procedure a small sample of the athlete's blood is taken and broken down in a machine known as a centrifuge. A protein-concentrated mixture is removed from the sample and injected into the injury site. The PRP mixture is filled with platelets, the main component of blood responsible for clotting. Increasing the platelet count speeds up the body's natural healing response and allows it to work more efficiently. Last season both Denver's Kenyon Martin and Portland's Brandon Roy underwent the procedure for muscle and tendon ailments and returned faster than anticipated.
Noah is likely out until the All-Star break with Taj Gibson the most likely option to join the starting lineup. Gibson becomes a must-add in all fantasy formats and is a capable frontcourt player that will provide rebounds and the occasional double-digit effort in the scoring column. Boozer-owners will be happy to see his value increases as he assumes more responsibilities on both ends of the court. Veteran Kurt Thomas could play a valuable role off the bench and may be worth consideration in deeper leagues.
It may be the end of the Ming dynasty in Houston as often-injured center Yao Ming has once again been shelved indefinitely. A recent MRI revealed a new stress fracture in his problematic left ankle. The fracture occurred to the tibia at a bony prominence known as the medial malleous (the big bump on the inside of your ankle). The fracture varies from the break that required Ming to undergo surgery and miss all of last season. His previous fracture was located in the navicular bone. The newest fracture is a significant setback for the seven-time All-Star who has now missed 86 games in the past three seasons with left leg problems. Ming weighs over 300 pounds and places substantial amounts of force through his size 18 feet. The stress increases while playing running and jumping and the fractures may also be attributed to his large workload associated with duties to the Rockets and the Chinese National team. The Rockets have not placed a timetable on Ming's return but it seems unlikely it will be any time soon. Chuck Hayes will continue to start at center but has done little to garner much fantasy attention. Veteran Brad Miller could be worth a look for Ming-owners now scrambling for a big man.
Rajon Rondo will miss several weeks after turning his ankle against the Knicks on Thursday. Both general manager Danny Ainge and head coach Doc Rivers confirmed the expected timeline. If you are own Rondo there may be a slight silver lining in the ankle sprain. The required time off will allow him to rest his sore left hamstring and plantar fasciitis that have forced him to sit four games already. Nate Robinson will see a healthy bump in minutes and Marquis Daniels and Avery Bradley should split time backing him up. Robinson has averaged 16.5 points and 5.5 assists per game as a starter.
Washington's John Wall continues to miss time with patellar tendinitis. Patellar tendinitis is a common occurrence in basketball and involves the quadriceps tendon, the conjoined tendon of the four quadriceps muscles located on the anterior aspect of the thigh. The quad is primarily responsible for knee extension and is crucial in running and jumping. Tendinitis often results due to excessive force placed through the quadriceps tendon that occurs with these activities. The tendon becomes irritated and inflamed and causes pain and tenderness before, after, or during activity depending on the severity. While the rookie may be able to play through the injury it is likely to nag him through the remainder of the season. Wall missed his ninth game of the season Thursday but hopes to return Saturday. Kirk Hinrich will continue to start in his absence.
More details regarding Chris Kaman's left ankle injury have surfaced and it turns out he is dealing with a fairly uncommon injury. The Clippers center has sustained a medial ankle sprain meaning the ligaments, specifically the deltoid ligament, on the inside of the foot have been injured. The deltoid ligament is actually made up of multiple ligaments that form a triangle. It is extremely durable and often the bone will break before the ligament gives way. The injury is less common because it is much more difficult to roll the ankle out based on the configuration of the ankle mortise. Kaman is expected to miss at least two more weeks with DeAndre Jordan filling in at center.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.