At long last the NBA trade deadline has passed and teams have a good idea of what their rosters will look like for the remainder of the season. Now it is important to keep a close eye on the injured players, particularly those that are members of teams more likely to be in the lottery than the playoffs. These teams will be more inclined to shut down young talent to protect them for the future. Unfortunately these moves can negatively effect the present for fantasy owners and you must be prepared to pick up a suitable replacement.
The Sacramento Kings are the first team to begin looking to next season as they have shut down last year's Rookie of the Year, Tyreke Evans, for the next three weeks. Evans has been dealing with a troublesome case of plantar fasciitis all season so the move should not be surprising. Evans will begin a specialized, non-surgical form of treatment known as extracorporeal shockwave treatment, or ESWT. ESWT has become a popular way to treat chronic plantar fasciitis and could help Evans avoid surgery. In ESWT, a device generates sound waves that are targeted at the effected tissue. The repeated shockwaves result in new areas of microtrauma in the inflamed tissue and "reboots" the healing process. New amounts of blood flood to the area accelerate the repair while creating an environment more conducive to healing. It is also believed ESWT helps provide pain relief by over stimulating nerve fibers. Evans has undergone one round of ESWT and will undergo two more before being reevaluated. It may be too late to trade Evans for equal value but those in keeper leagues may be able to move him to a squad looking to rebuild. If you are stuck with Evans you needn't look far for a replacement. Teammate Jermaine Taylor has performed well over the last three game, averaging 17.0 points per game and 1.7 steals, including a 21-point performance in a win over the Magic.
Miami's Mike Miller is dealing with two separate problems that could be interrelated. After missing several games with symptoms associated to a concussion, Miller has now been diagnosed with an ear infection that prevented him from flying with the team to Chicago. A concussion disrupts basic neurological function including hearing, vision, and balance. Other symptoms can include a sensitivity to light, nausea, and dizziness. Ear infections, particularly those of the inner ear, can cause mimic several of these symptoms. When the infection involves the fluid-filled chambers of the inner ear, a person can lose control of balance, feel nauseated, and experience dizziness. The Heat will try to control the infection through antibiotics and are hopeful the symptoms will dissipate and allow Miller to return to action in the near future. However should the symptoms remain, they are more likely associated to his previous head injury and should sideline him for several more games. In the meantime, Mario Chalmers and James Jones will continue to see extra minutes.
One situation worth keeping a close eye following a frenetic trade deadline is the center position in Boston. The Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder in exchange for Jeff Green and then shipped Turkish rookie Semih Erden to Clevleand. The moves are surprising, given Perkins' success in the playoffs but I suspect the Celtics were leery to given a giant extension to a center coming off of anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction and now hobbled by a minor medial collateral sprain in the opposite knee. However they are still taking a big risk by investing so heavily in the centers remaining on the roster. Both Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal have been hampered by injury all season and are both currently not active. Jermaine is not expected back until sometime in April after undergoing an arthroscopic debridement on his troublesome left knee to remove floating bodies within the joint. JO's left knee has been a constant problem since he initially injured it in 2007 while with the Pacers. Since joining Boston in the offseason he has participated in just 18 games and shown little promise for fantasy owners.
Shaq has also yo-yo'd in and out of the lineup as well and is currently nursing a strained Achilles tendon in his right foot. The Achilles is the conjoined tendon of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, the muscles responsible for pointing the toes in a motion known as plantar flexion. They play an important role in jumping and accelerating when running. Given Shaq's size the injury could be particularly bothersome and is likely to linger. He has also missed time with a right hip injury earlier this season and the fact that they both occurred on the right side should not be ignored.
When analyzing an injury, medical professional often evaluate the entire extremity using a biomechanical concept known as the kinetic chain model. This concept visualizes each extremity as an interconnected arrangement of links working together to carry out a desired action. If an injury occurs somewhere along the sequence, the other parts become effected. Much like a chain, if one link is weakened the entire chain suffers. Shaq's right hip problems could have very well led to his Achilles problem. Multiple injuries on one side of an aging body send up a red flag that other issues may occur.
The Big Shamrock is expected to start upon his return next week but, given his history, is not a trustworthy option for fantasy teams. Instead the Celtics will likely lean heavily on Glen Davis and newly acquired Nenad Krstic. Krstic is an intriguing player who put up decent numbers while in New Jersey under coach Lawrence Frank, now an assistant with Boston.
Two centers in the Western conference are expected back within the next few days as both Portland's Marcus Camby and New Orleans' Emeka Okafor hope to bounce back and help their teams make a late push in a suddenly wide open playoff race. Camby has slowly worked his way back but has some lingering soreness in the scoped knee. He continues to participate in practice but remains doubtful for Friday. Okafor is also hoping for a Friday return but appears more likely to return early next week. He has missed nine games with a strained oblique muscle. Both bigs will see limited minutes early on and will gradually be brought back into the fold. Fantasy owners should show extreme patience with both.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.