The Blazers are hoping to welcome back two key members of their rotation in the coming days. Center Marcus Camby and guard Brandon Roy have returned to practice and hope to be available at some point before the All-Star break. Both players are attempting to return from knee injuries.
Camby underwent surgery on January 20 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. The veteran big man was expected to miss three weeks and has spent his time rehabilitating the knee and staying in shape by running on a specialized treadmill. The treadmill is known as an anti-gravity treadmill, designed to limit the amount of body weight put through the lower extremities by using air. The individual is locked into a harness connected to a pressure-controlled chamber that will lift the individual. This will enable the athlete to run while decreasing the amount of ground reaction forces placed through the legs. The treadmill allows for a gradual return to activity without a loss of conditioning. Camby has returned to practice and made it through multiple drills. Though he has already ruled himself out for Friday's game against Toronto, he wouldn't count himself out for Sunday's game in Detroit. However it seems more likely he plays next Wednesday when Portland returns home for one final game before the break. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect much from Camby right out of the gate. In previous seasons, the oft-injured center has needed several games to return to form.
Like Camby, Roy is also dealing with knee issues. The meniscus pads in both knees are worn down allowing the femur to make direct contact with his lower leg bones. The constant grind of bone-on-bone is resulting an inflammation that is limiting Roy's range of motion while causing pain. After consulting with several experts, it was determined that an experimental meniscus transplant would not be beneficial. Instead Roy underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees a little more than three weeks ago. He returned to practice Wednesday and reported no pain. While it was initially believed Roy would be available this weekend, he is now targeting a return in one of the two games remaining games prior to the All-Star break.
Roy remains a big gamble for fantasy owners. If you are able or willing to take the chance that he could produce at or near his previous level know that it comes with the inherent risk that he could be shutdown at any point. There is no telling how long Roy's knee will be able to hold up to the grind of playing basketball at the highest level. Remember the surgery did not change the fact that his knees are at an extreme risk for chronic inflammation and arthritis. Tread carefully going forward.
The Mavericks are hoping to welcome back a key component as well. Sophomore Rodrigue Beaubois hopes to play sometime within the next week after sitting out every Dallas game up to this point. Roddy B. suffered a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot while training with the French National team over the summer and underwent surgery to repair and stabilize the bone. Unlike Milwaukee guard Brandon Jennings, who suffered the same injury and was able to return five weeks later, Beaubois suffered a setback that delayed his return and pushed back his recovery window. The point guard has returned to practice and hopes to join the team soon.
Beaubois is a player worth keeping an eye on for the fantasy stretch run. He was originally slated as the starting shooting guard but coach Rick Carlisle has adequately filled that spot with the defensive-minded DeShawn Stevenson. Instead it seems likely the Beaubois will join Dallas' solid second unit that includes Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, and Jose Juan Barea. Barea is the most likely to lose minutes to Beaubois, who averaged 7.1 points as a rookie in limited minutes. He showed promise throughout the season, scoring 40 in a game against the Warriors while displaying quickness and a propensity to get the basket. If he can earn the trust of Carlisle, Beaubois could become a valuable fantasy commodity.
Beaubois should have an easier time finding minutes as teammate Dominique Jones is expected to miss an extended period of time. Jones suffered a stress fracture in his fifth metatarsal, the same bone Beaubois fractured, and is currently weighing his options.
The Jazz will be without Mehmet Okur for the next three weeks with a strained lower back that is also causing inflammation in the vertebral disc. Inflamed discs can be excruciatingly painful and can irritate nerves in the back, resulting in shooting pain and radicular pain in the lower extremities. Okur has played sparingly this season and his numbers have been disappointing. In 13 games he is averaging 4.9 points and 2.3 rebounds, while shooting 35.5 percent from the field and 31.3 percent behind the 3-point line. Even the most optimistic fantasy owners should now be willing to send Okur back to free agent pool as it appears more and more likely this will be a lost season for the Turkish big man.
Hawks center Al Horford is still dealing with a back injury he sustained in a violent collision with Clippers forward Blake Griffin. The All-Star continues to feel soreness in his back and is unable to practice. He has already declared himself out for this weekend's game against the Bobcats and admitted he may be forced to sit out the All-Star game.
Horford owners need to remain patient. Back injuries are difficult to manage and often slow to heal. The muscles of the back must be supported to better facilitate the healing process but steps must be taken to insure adhesions in the soft tissue do not form. This can often delay a player's return but does have a better long-term outlook. Expect Horford to remain day-to-day at least until the All-Star break. Zaza Pachulia has stepped into the starting lineup but has been ineffective. If you are looking for a temporary replacement for Horford, consider New York's Timofey Mozgov. The Russian center is averaging 10.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game in three consecutive starts for the Knicks.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.