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In Street Clothes...

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.

In Street Clothes...

The NBA offseason is always a long wait for players and executives who eagerly anticipate returning to the hardwood. For players coming off an injury, sometimes that wait has been stretched out even longer; they are itching to return to action after an offseason of rehabilitation and, in some cases, surgery. Here's a look at some of those players and their respective injuries.

Amar'e Stoudamire

Stoudamire underwent surgery in February to repair a partially detached retina in his right eye. The retina is a double-layered structure where the photoreceptors of the eye are located. When these two layers are jarred they can separate and become detached. An athlete with a detached retina will often initially report seeing flashes of light or floating specks but as the injury progresses the often feel like "a curtain is falling" over their line of sight.

The surgery went well for Stoudamire but did force the Suns power forward to begin wearing protective goggles while he plays. He is playing in the final year of his contract and with Coach Alvin Gentry looking to bringing the up-tempo offense back to Phoenix, pick Stoudamire with confidence in the first two rounds.

Al Jefferson and Michael Redd

Both Jefferson and Redd were putting up solid numbers last year before tears of their anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) knocked them out for the remainder of the season. The ACL is a ligament within in the knee that serves as primary stabilizer for the knee. It crisscrosses with the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and runs between the upper leg bone, the femur, and the lower leg bone, the tibia. The ligament prevents forward movement or anterior translation of the tibia on the femur. It is critical in maintaining stability and mobility when NBA players pivot, cut, and jump. When torn the ACL is surgically reconstructed, usually arthroscopically. A complete rehabilitation can take anywhere from six to nine months.

Jefferson underwent surgery in February and spent the last eight months rehabbing and conditioning. He has dropped over 30 pounds off of his frame which should help the knee and he looks poised to return for another monster year. The Minnesota training staff will carefully monitor the knee for swelling but expect Jefferson to be ready to go when the Timberwolves begin the season against the Nets. He is a solid draft choice but his early season minutes may be slightly reduced if new head coach Kurt Rambis decides to ease his franchise player back onto the court.

Redd's case is slightly different than Jefferson's because Redd also tore his medial collateral ligament (MCL), a ligament vital in stabilizing the knee with side-to-side or lateral movements. He underwent surgery in March but the MCL tear more than likely made his rehab a bit more complicated than Jefferson's. In addition to the extra damage Redd and Jefferson play completely different positions. Guards like Redd are much more active on the court running without the ball on both ends of the court and constantly starting and stopping. A stable knee is critical for this kind of action. Jefferson relies more on brawn and likely focused more on insuring the leg would be strong enough to withstand the power needed to post up on offense and defense.

Redd did play 16 minutes for the Bucks in their preseason opener but keep an eye on how his knee holds up for the remainder of the preseason and in the early stages of the season. If it does not serve as a problem Redd could be poised for a big year on a team without many offensive weapons.

Tracy McGrady

T-Mac has been plagued with injuries over the last few seasons but it was a knee injury that ended his season in 2009. In February he elected for mircofracture surgery, an arthroscopic procedure carried out when damage has been sustained to the articular cartilage of the tibia and fibula. In the procedure the surgeon cleans and prepares the cartilage at and surrounding the injury site. He then creates small microfractures within the bone with an awl, a hammer-like surgical tool. The body's natural healing response kicks in as it creates marrow-filled blood clots to begin fixing the damaged cartilage. As time progresses, the damage is repaired and replaced with new cartilage. While the replacement cartilage is not as strong and durable as the original cartilage it is effective enough to allow a return to activity. The average recovery time depends on the knee's response as well as the needs and requirements of the individual player. Several big name players have undergone the procedure including Dallas' Jason Kidd and Phoenix's Stoudamire.

McGrady rehabbed in Chicago with renowned trainer Tim Grover and is planning a November MRI that should give the former All-Star a better idea of where he stands. If you can snag McGrady late then he is worth taking a chance on but don't reach given his past history and the difficulty that comes with overcoming the procedure.

Gilbert Arenas

Arenas also rehabbed in Chicago with Grover and expects to be at full strength when the season begins. Over the last three seasons Arenas has had three surgeries on his left knee after a 2007 collision with Charlotte's Gerald Wallace. The original procedure was to repair damage to the lateral meniscus, a fibrocartilage disc that acts as a buffer between the upper and lower leg bones. The second surgery was for the medial meniscus while the final surgery cleared up debris within the knee capsule, common with his two previous surgeries. Arenas feels he is 100 percent and has raved about the work of Grover and his staff at Attack Athletics. With a talented group of teammates surrounding him in Washington, many are optimistic that Arenas should return close to his old form and he will likely be a second or third round pick in most fantasy drafts.

Article first appeared on 10/9/09

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