Kobe Bryant isn't walking through that door.
This week, the Lakers confirmed what many suspected, announcing that Kobe Bryant will sit out the remainder of the season to rehab his knee injury. He joins a number of other big names, including backcourt-mate Steve Nash, Atlanta's Al Horford, the Bulls' Derrick Rose, New Orleans' Jrue Holiday, the Nuggets' Danilo Gallinari and Nate Robinson and Nets center Brook Lopez. J.J. Redick's name could be added to that list in the next few days; the Clippers are talking about shutting him down to rest the bulging disc in his back.
The Sixers haven't made any official statement about rookie Nerlens Noel yet, but most league observers believe he'll wait until next season to make his NBA debut.
Obviously, you never want to hear a player is hurt so badly that he'll spend the rest of the season in rehab. But the "out for the season" designation does have one advantage: clarity. You can drop Kobe knowing he's done until next season. But with players like Andrea Bargnani (elbow) or Ryan Anderson (herniated disc) or Kendrick Perkins (groin), you're in limbo.(Personally, I'd drop all three in a non-keeper league - I don't think any of them will see significant action before the end of the year.)
And then, there's the "extra rest" guys, which might be the most frustrating group of all. This time of year, players coming off injury (Rajon Rondo, to name one) or with chronic problems (like Kevin Garnett) will get periodic days off in the hopes of keeping them healthier for longer. You can work with that in situations where there's a clear pattern - Rondo doesn't play in the second game of back-to-back sets, for example.
But then there's Amar'e Stoudemire. I was feeling pretty smart for having featured STAT in this space last week. He'd go on to post two of his best lines of the season - 17 points and 12 rebounds and 3 blocks against the Cavs on March 8 and 23 points, six boards against the Sixers on March 10. And with Tyson Chandler set to miss the Knicks' visit to Boston on March 12, and with no more games on the schedule until the 15th, and with New York desperate to keep their win streak alive, Stoudemire seemed positioned for another big game. Instead, Mike Woodson benched Stoudemire for what he called a "recovery day."
Both Stoudemire and Chandler are expected back in the lineup for Saturday's game.
Picks for the Week:
Nikola Pekovic (93%) - T-Wolves coach Rick Adelman has hinted that he'll lift Pek's post-injury minute restriction this week; we should see the big (and scary) guy logging 30-plus on a regular basis going forward.
Eric Bledsoe (91%) - As expected, Bledsoe is moving back into the starting lineup, with Gerald Green shifting back to a bench role.
Jodie Meeks (62%) - His playing time may dip a bit when Nick Young is back, but with Kobe and Nash done for the season Meeks should continue to be a pretty good source of threes and steals.
John Henson (46%) - One of few bright spots this season for the Bucks, Henson has emerged as a consistent source of blocks and an efficient scorer.
Avery Bradley (45%) - Set to return from an ankle injury that has forced him to the bench since early February. With Rajon Rondo on a playing time restriction and Phil Pressey shooting a ghastly .284 from the field, Bradley should get significant run.
Nick Young (29%) - Could be back in the Lakers' lineup this week - he's reportedly shooting to return for Wednesday's game against the Spurs.
Thomas Robinson (4%) - Will get a short-term bump in minutes while LaMarcus Aldridge (back contusion) is out. Robinson is sort of a one-category guy, but he did pull down 18 rebounds in a game in February.
C.J. McCollum (1%) - Mo Williams (hip) will be sidelined for approximately two weeks, which creates an opportunity for McCollum to play more.
• Follow Charlie on Twitter - @charliezegers