The Clippers have managed to stay afloat without their floor general as Paul continues to miss time with a bruised kneecap. He initially suffered the injury in a game against the Magic and missed LA's next three outings. His attempted return was brief, lasting two games, and he has now been a spectator for four straight. The Clippers have yet to provide a timeline for his expected recovery but there is reason to believe this could last at least another week, if not longer.
Earlier this season Washington point guard John Wall missed 33 games recovering from a stress reaction in his left patella. Wall's injury was not a true fracture but his body treated the injury just as it would a fracture, laying down new bony tissue to repair the injured area. Paul's bone contusion reacts the same way. When a bone is contused, tiny cracks occur along the outer surface of the bone. The only way to repair the damage is to fill the spaces with new bony tissue. This takes time and unfortunately the biomechanics of the knee complicate the situation.
The patella is situated within the tendon of the quadriceps muscle. This unusual location allows the patella to increase the moment arm of the tendon, increasing the moment of torque and subsequently improving range of motion. However, as it moves, the patella comes in contact with various aspects of the knee joint, particularly the femur. This repetitive bone-on-bone contact makes it difficult for an injury to the patella to quickly heal and often prolongs the rehab process.
I don't expect Paul to miss 30-plus games like Wall but I do think there is more to the injury than a simple bruise. The good news is the injury occurred on his right knee and not the left knee that needed surgery during the 2009-2010 to fix a torn meniscus. Look for the Clippers to proceed with extreme caution and don't be surprised if the situation drags out a little longer than expected. In the meantime, Eric Bledsoe will continue to man the point guard position and is worth a roster spot in all formats.
The news for Rondo was much worse as the All-Star point guard was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee. He will miss the remainder of the season and will undergo surgery sometime in the next two weeks to repair the tear. ACL injuries occur with regular frequency in the NBA. So far this season Brandon Rush, Josh Howard, and Lou Williams have succumb to the injury and plenty of attention has been given to the rehab processes of both Ricky Rubio and Derrick Rose, who each suffered torn ACLs last season. The recovery is long and tedious, filled with peaks, valleys, and the particularly frustrating plateaus. Time is required for the graft to become fully incorporated into the body while the athlete must also focus on combating muscle atrophy and weakness. While Vikings running back Adrian Peterson defied odds and returned to an extremely high level of play in eight months, it should be noted he is the exception and not the rule. Rondo will likely need a full 10 months of rehab and recovery following his surgery, suggesting the Celtics will be without their point guard to start the 2013-2014 campaign. His fantasy value in all formats, even keeper leagues, takes an automatic nosedive.
In the meantime the Celtics will turn to a stable of guards to fill Rondo's minutes. Veterans Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa could help ease the scoring load but neither is a true point guard. Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee will also see a bump in action but both are known for the defensive contributions which don't always translate well into the fantasy world. Boston could look to acquire a true point guard or sign a free agent veteran.
Andrew Bynum: Bynum continues inching toward a return. He has reportedly begun on-court activities that included pivoting and cutting, hinting his ailing knees are rounding into shape. If you have carved yourself a decent lead or are looking to add a talented, albeit a risky, player to your roster keep an eye on Bynum as a pre All-Star break return remains possible.
Mike Conley Jr.: Conley suffered a sprained left ankle Sunday and is considered day-to-day. The injury was described by Conley as "more of a bone bruise than a sprain," which isn't necessarily a good thing. With the Grizzlies facing a quick turnaround, I'd anticipate him sitting Monday against the Sixers.
Luol Deng: Deng's balky hamstring is beginning to feel better and a return this week is likely. The Bulls could elect to rest Deng for one more game when the Bobcats come to town Monday. An additional game off would allow Deng time to prepare for Wednesday's tilt against the rival Bucks. Jimmy Butler has played well in Deng's absence but would lose any inflated value with his return.
Gordon Hayward: The Jazz forward has been playing well as of late but that could all be derailed by a sprained shoulder suffered against the Pacers. Hayward was wearing a sling in the locker room following the win and attempted to down play the situation. He will attempt to go through shoot around on Monday morning to determine his status against the Rockets. Shoulder problems are tricky for shooters and it may be a good idea to look elsewhere until he's proven the injury is behind him.
Toronto Big Men: Both Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas could return within the next week, bolstering the Raptors' frontcourt. Bargnani has not played since December 10 after tearing a ligament in his right elbow while Valanciunas has missed 16 straight games after suffering a fractured metacarpal on his right ring finger. Valanciunas will be forced to wear extra padding on the affected area while Bargnani could return wearing a compressive sleeve or brace. Ed Davis has been a productive fantasy option filling in and appears to have earned the starting job.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.