Three All-Stars were ruled out indefinitely Saturday, reshaping the NBA and fantasy landscape. No injury was bigger than the knee injury suffered by Derrick Rose who underwent surgery Monday. Marc Gasol and Andre Iguodala will avoid going under the knife but will both miss a significant amount of time recovering.
The sight of Rose leaving the locker room on crutches following Friday's loss to Portland seems cruel. After missing the entire 2012-13 campaign recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), Rose returned and appeared in 10 of Chicago's first 11 games. His lone absence was due to a right hamstring strain. Unfortunately, Rose suffered a torn medial meniscus while attempting a cut late in the game. An MRI taken over the weekend revealed the injury.
On the bright side, the injury did not occur to his ACL or any of the other stabilizing ligaments of the knee. Instead, the damage is isolated to the C-shaped fibrocartilage disc on the inside portion of the joint. Damage to the medial meniscus is a minor win for the Bulls, as it is not considered as serious as a lateral meniscus tear. Recovery from a lateral tear can take longer to heal, as it bears a large amount of weight during activity and plays a part in fluid joint motion. However, the location of the tear was more important in determining the final surgery option with Rose electing to undergo a meniscus repair.
If the tear is situated in the peripheral area of the meniscus, where a larger blood supply is available, a meniscus repair is possible. In this procedure, the surgeon will suture or reattach the damage, preserving the integrity of the disc. Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook underwent a repair following his meniscus injury in last year's playoffs and has appeared fine despite requiring a second surgery to address a problematic suture. Furthermore, a repair bodes well for Rose's long-term outcome and decreases the likelihood of long-term problems like osteoarthritis or recurring cysts.
The former MVP is droppable in all non-keeper formats and veteran guard Kirk Hinrich becomes a serviceable fantasy player moving forward. The offensive responsibilities of Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah also increase.
The Grizzles lost the reigning Defensive Player of the Year to a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain, though he is expected to return as some point this season. The MCL sits on the outside of the knee and provides support during lateral movement. Gasol's injury was categorized as a Grade 2 sprain, meaning individual ligament fibers were damaged but the entire ligament did not tear. Unlike the ACL, MCL injuries can mend without surgical intervention and simply need time for the injury to heal.
Determining when Gasol will return despite the “indefinite” tag is tricky but looking at several factors can lead to a reasonable, educated guess. The last eight players to receive an official and public diagnosis of a Grade 2 MCL sprain missed an average of 23 games. Gasol's teammate, Zach Randolph, is included on this list and missed 37 games during the 2011-12 campaign. Additionally, New Orleans Pelicans center Greg Stiemsma was recently diagnosed with a Grade 2 MCL sprain, and the team ruled him out six-to-eight weeks rather than indefinitely.
Given these facts, a return at some point in January seems likely, though an early return could be possible given the recent success of Memphis' medical staff. Look for center Kosta Koufas to see an uptick in minutes, and he's now worth a look in all formats.
Iguodala suffered a hamstring strain in Friday's loss to the Lakers and was sidelined Saturday against the Trailblazers. He is expected to miss an extended period of time after a MRI revealed the strain. The Warriors did not publically indicate the grade of the injury, but given Iguodala's account of hearing a “pop,” as well as the indefinite tag, it seems likely this one is also a Grade 2 injury. Grade 2 strains are often referred to as partial tears and generally require at least two-to-three weeks to heal. Aggravation and reoccurrence is high for these kinds of injuries, so ensuring the muscle is completely healed will be vital to Iguodala's ability to return and stay on the court.
Harrison Barnes will join the starting unit, though other injuries will be sure to stretch Golden State's depth. Toney Douglas continues to nurse a stress reaction in his tibia and center Jermaine O'Neal is slowly working his way back from two right leg injuries. Reserve Ognjen Kuzmic is also out after breaking the fifth metacarpal in his right hand early last week.
Eric Bledsoe: Bledsoe remains sidelined with a left shin contusion. The tibia is poorly protected and vulnerable to these kinds of injuries. The Suns are likely taking a conservative approach with the injury to ensure it does not develop into any kind of fracture. He remains day-to-day.
Kobe Bryant: The Lakers' guard has returned to practice, though when he'll return to game action remains undecided. Regardless, the Lakers' front office must feel confident in his ability to return at an elite level, signing the former MVP to a two-year contract extension Monday.
Steph Curry: Curry has returned to play after missing two games with a concussion. While the probability of sustaining another concussion does not increase, the severity of any associated symptoms would be elevated, as the effects of these injuries are cumulative.
James Harden: A sore left foot continues to plague Harden, leaving him day-to-day for the immediate future. He was diagnosed with a left foot contusion earlier this year and it looks like the injury is lingering. He will miss Monday's matchup against the Grizzlies before being re-evaluated. Starting him in weekly leagues may be a slight risk, though it's minimized by the Rockets' four-game schedule on tap.
Deron Williams and Brook Lopez: Both Nets have been ruled out for Tuesday's game against the Raptors. Each have been managing ankle sprains, though it appears Lopez is ahead of Williams in rehab. Given Williams' chronic ankle issues, this comes as no surprise.