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NBA Injury Analysis: More Injury Woes for the Hornets

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

New Orleans Hornets
Just one day after announcing guard Eric Gordon would miss an additional six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome right knee, the Hornets were forced to shut down center Emeka Okafor through the All-Star break with a knee injury of his own. The team is calling Okafor's injury a "sore knee", remaining vague on the details.

The team is equally tight-lipped about Gordon's knee surgery, electing to simply state he underwent the procedure "to clean up his right knee." For those that regularly read this column the news shouldn't come as a surprise as I have been warning about this exact scenario occurring with Gordon. A knee contusion can be much worse than it sounds and given what we know, it sounds like there were in fact loose bodies or a frayed meniscus in the joint. Now this is speculation on my part since the team will not verify if anything was removed but given the timeframe and the limited facts we know, it's a safe, educated guess.

The secrecy of the Hornets has to make New Orleans fans a bit uneasy especially since Gordon's backcourt mate Jack Jarrett is also missing time with a bruised knee. Unfortunately the injuries don't stop there as Carl Landry remains out for several weeks due to a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain and Jason Smith still sidelined by a concussion.

The litany of injuries has opened the door for several players to see an increase in action with Greivis Vasquez and Chris Kaman at the forefront. Vasquez will be a short-term answer for teams looking for assists and Kaman has been extremely valuable, collecting three double-doubles in his last four games.

Anderson Varejao
For the second straight season, the Brazilian center will miss an extended period with an injury. Last season Varejao was limited to 31 games due to a torn ankle tendon and is now sidelined by a fractured right wrist. The good news is that the break is non-displaced and surgery is currently not required. However he's not out of the woods yet. The bones in the wrist are small and the extent of the injury may not be known for weeks until the healing process has begun and a MRI or CT scan can detect the newly developed bone tissue. He will remain in a cast or soft brace and focus on range of motion and general strength during rehab. Semih Erden started at center and scored a career-best 18 points in a win over the Pacers.

Nene and Spencer Hawes
These two centers are both dealing with similar injuries that show up differently on the injury report. Nene is currently out with calf strain while Hawes remains sidelined with an Achilles strain. The Achilles is the conjoined tendon of the muscle complex commonly referred to as the calf. The primary difference between the two injuries troubling these two bigs is location. Since Nene's injury has been classified as a calf strain it is likely the injury occurred in the muscle belly of the calf or near its musculotendious junction. Hawes' injury obviously occurred directly to the tendon. The treatment of the two injuries is relatively the same with Nene's injury more likely to recover first.

Both players would be unwise to rush back. The calf helps the lower extremity absorb the ground reaction forces associated with running and jumping. If the calf is limited by injury at the muscle or tendon, it is unable to perform this task adequately placing undue stress on the knee and making it vulnerable to injury. Nene in particular should be monitored closely since he has already undergone an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery on his effected left leg.

Hawes has been placed in a walking boot and will sit through the All-Star break. He is slated to meet with a specialist to determine a better course of treatment. The 76ers have missed his presence falling to 8-8 in games he's missed, compared to 12-2 with him in the lineup. In Denver, Nene is also in a walking boot and will be for several more days. He well then decide if he can play in any of the Nuggets' remaining games before the break.

Fast Breaks

LaMarcus Aldridge: A sprained left ankle kept the first-time All-Star out of two consecutive games, including Thursday's loss to the Clippers. Aldridge plans on practicing Friday to test the injury and see if he can suit up Saturday against the Hawks. Given Portland's troubled history with injury, fantasy owners would likely prefer the team to be overly cautious and insure the new face of the franchise is 100 percent before allowing him to return.

Brandon Bass: The Celtics' most reliable producer off the bench will miss the next two weeks with inflammation on his right knee. Bass admitted the swelling has been an issue for a while but he recently began to feel the joint getting weaker. He expects to return after the All-Star break.

Kevin Garnett: A hip flexor strain sidelined the former MVP for one game. He looked solid in his return, collecting a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Get him back in the your lineups.

Zach Randolph: Randolph continues to make strides while rehabbing his injured knee. Out since January 1 with a torn MCL, Z-Bo has been cleared for non-contact court work. He is reportedly targeting a March 7 game against the Warriors as his return date.

Derrick Rose: The Bulls continue to play it safe with the reigning MVP, sitting Rose despite an improvement in his ailing back. With the Bulls hosting the Nets over the weekend, don't be surprised to see Rose miss an additional game before returning Monday against the Hawks. If he doesn't play by Monday, you would have to start questioning his availability of the upcoming All-Star Game.

Delonte West: The Mavericks will be without West for a significant stretch of time after he suffered an open dislocation and fracture of his right ring finger. A small silver lining can be found in the fact the West is a lefty, meaning the break occurred in his non-shooting hand. Dallas will be shorthanded Friday with Jason Terry and Rodrigue Beaubois out due to personal reasons. Sophomore Dominique Jones will see heavy minutes in the immediate future but those minutes will decrease the moment Terry and Beaubois return.

Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.