Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, and Amar'e Stoudemire
The Knicks have alternated wins and losses over that last seven games but hope the return of their two injured forwards will help stabilize the team. Anthony has missed New York's last two games after hyperextending his left knee on Christmas Day. Unfortunately the diagnosis is a bit vague as the term hyperextended isn't really a diagnosis but more of a description of how the injury occurred. A hyperextended knee can result in damage to ligaments, muscles, tendons, and the joint capsule itself. Despite the ambiguity, Anthony's injury doesn't appear to be severe. He returned to practice Monday after participating in a limited fashion on Sunday. A New Years Day return against the Trailblazers remains a strong possibility so prepare your lineups accordingly. It should be noted that Anthony's knee injury is the second injury to his lower left extremity. He missed two games earlier in the season with a left ankle sprain. There's no guarantee the two are related but it will be interesting to see if they have a cascade effect resulting in lingering soreness or a muscle imbalance.
Stoudemire is also back at practice and hopes to make his season debut on Tuesday. The January 1 game has long since been the target date for his first game back after undergoing a debridement procedure on his left knee. He had admitted he isn't quite 100 percent but wants to help ease the load on the banged up New York frontcourt. He is still experiencing soreness and doesn't feel as explosive as he normally should. I understand Stoudemire's desire to return and it's admirable he wants to help his injured teammates, but given his medial history the risk associated with returning early is not worth it. The left knee will always be an issue for the former All-Star but increasing his workload without the healing process complete would be a mistake. Stoudemire owners should hope he doesn't return prematurely and should consider looking elsewhere until he has proven he can play regular minutes and be effective.
If the frontcourt woes weren't bad enough, Felton will miss four to six weeks after fracturing the pinkie finger on his right hand. Fortunately the fracture did not displace and surgery will not be required. Felton will need time for the bone to heal but he will be able to maintain his conditioning during the recovery process. Expect him back before the All-Star break. Jason Kidd will assume the starting point guard role, improving his already elevated fantasy value. Pablo Prigioni should see more minutes as the team looks to keep Kidd's legs fresh and Iman Shumpert still recovering from ACL surgery.
The Celtics were forced to sit their All-star point guard late last week after Rondo sustained a hip contusion against the Clippers. He was a spectator for the team's loss to Golden State but was back in the lineup on Sunday. He played 36 minutes in the loss to the Kings, scoring two points on 1-of-6 shooting. A hip bruise may not sound like a serious injury but it can be severely limiting for a player like Rondo that thrives on penetration.
The hip is made up of three fused bones, the ilium, ischium, and pubis. The ilium is the largest of the three and is the bony area that you feel when you put your hands on your hips. Specifically this is the iliac crest, a bony ridge vulnerable to injury due to the lack of soft tissue covering the area. This is the most common site for a hip contusion. Generally a hip contusion is accompanied by a muscle bruising resulting in further limitation. Additional pain can arise if any neighboring nerves are affected.
For Rondo, the area will be irritated with any direct contact and any muscle damage would limit his quick first step. The Celtics could attempt to pad the area with padded compression shorts but even those can only do so much. Fortunately Rondo catches a bit of a break in the upcoming schedule as the team does not play again until Wednesday. The extra rest should allow him rest and receive treatment so that he can remain in the lineup. I don't anticipate the injury costing him another game but there is reason to believe his production could dip for the immediate future.
Tyreke Evans: Evans will visit with Dr. Steve Lombardo for a second opinion on his sore left knee. The injury has held him out of 12 games so far this season. Lombardo has been a physician for the Lakers since 1974 and has performed numerous surgeries for the organization.
Tyson Chandler: A sprained right ankle kept Chandler out of practice but he is expected to play Tuesday against Portland. He has yet to miss a game this season.
Quincy Pondexter: The Memphis swingman will be out indefinitely with a Grade II sprain of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee. A MRI confirmed the injury. Memphis fans are all too familiar with the diagnosis as a Grade II MCL sprain kept Zach Randolph on the sideline for two and half months during the strike-shortened season. Pondexter's value was minimal but his absence will have indirect effect on Tony Allen and Rudy Gay who could see a bump in their already high number of minutes.
Marcus Thornton: Thornton suffered a left ankle sprain in Sacramento's blowout win over Boston. No word yet on the severity of the sprain but with Aaron Brooks nursing a sprained ankle of his own and Evans still sidelined, expect Isaiah Thomas and Francisco Garcia to become the starting backcourt for the Kings.
Royce White: White's situation is a tricky one to gauge. The Rockets appear to be offering as much support as possible to accommodate White and his anxiety disorder. However the rookie guard has refused a D-League assignment and insists his doctors helped him reach this decision. Avoid the situation at all cost and leave White on the waiver wire.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.