In Street Clothes...
By Jim Russo
RotoWire Injury Expert
Elton Brand - LAC [PF]
This past Wednesday marked the return of some major players on the fantasy market and big draws for the NBA. Elton Brand had the longest layoff of the group after tearing his Achilles tendon last August. His return came a bit later than the Clippers originally hoped, but it indicates a great chance that he'll be back to his old self next season. He played 26 minutes, scoring 19 with five rebounds, an outstanding season debut, even if it came in April. But the fact that he returned at all, for a non-playoff bound team, really tells me that the 29 year old is ready to go and will have the whole summer to get back into game shape for next season. If there was any doubt, you wouldn't have seen his name in the stat sheet at all this year.
Chris Kaman - LAC [C]
Unfortunately for Clippers, the positive of seeing Brand back on the court were tempered somewhat as they may have lost center Chris Kaman for the year after he sprained his ankle earlier this week. We have detailed the injury a few times -- players usually miss at least two weeks. Combine that with the fact that Kaman battled a variety of injuries the second half of the season, and he should get a chance to rest now for a while and concentrate on getting in shape for an entire season next year. Hopefully, playing alongside Brand in '08-'09 will only help his production.
Gilbert Arenas - WAS [PG]
Fans also saw Agent Zero back in action in Washington. You can read all you want about the obscure nature of his return, maybe a lack of communication between him and coach Eddie Jordan, and some questionable defense down the stretch, but the bottom line is Arenas is a scorer -- someone who could definitely help a team fighting for playoff position. Arenas originally tore the lateral meniscus in his knee about this time last season and had surgery to repair the cartilage. He admittedly went a little too hard a little too fast with his rehab and had a setback forcing him into the operating room again in November, not an uncommon result after that type of operation. You would hope he learned his lesson and didn't rush back this time around but we really won't know until he has a few games under his belt. Continue to watch the situation and hope he remains asymptomatic.
Antawn Jamison - WAS [PF]
While the Wizards players embraced Arenas' return they had to be worried when their leading scorer Antawn Jamison left the floor with a right shoulder injury. The diagnosis is a little fuzzy right now -- a sprained shoulder, but apparently his MRI and X-ray were both normal. Possibly it was an AC sprain, an injury to the joint at the tip of the shoulder where the clavicle and scapula meet, but there hasn't been much more information released yet, so stay tuned. Best case scenario he's out this weekend but will be back for some big games next week against the East's top teams.
Pau Gasol - LAL [PF,C]
There were more returns on Wednesday out in the Western Conference for the Lakers and Mavs. Pau Gasol came back from the ankle sprain he suffered about three weeks ago to play 32 minutes in a win against Portland. He reported some soreness and swelling after the game, but that's to be expected the rest of this season. He should continue to gain strength and explosiveness in that ankle with the increased playing time, and could send the Lakers into the playoffs on a big time high.
Dirk Nowitzki - DAL [PF]
Dirk Nowitzki surprised me a bit coming back so soon from a high ankle sprain he suffered roughly two weeks ago. That can he a month or more injury, but he missed only four games and with the team in a battle for two of the last three playoff spots, he couldn't wait any longer. He knows it's not 100%, and is something that would have kept him out of the lineup much longer if it was December instead of April, but that's great to see. For some teams and players it's still about winning games in the NBA, and Dirk can only help the Mavs chances.
Shawn Marion - MIA [SF,PF]
We can't exactly say the same thing about the Miami Heat who seem poised to completely lay down the rest of this year as Shawn Marion joined teammate Dwayne Wade on the shelf with an undisclosed foot injury. Could the top lottery pick be on the minds of those in South Beach?
Jim Russo is a certified athletic trainer with a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology.