RotoWire Partners

NBA Injury Analysis: In Street Clothes...

In Street Clothes...
By Jim Russo
RotoWire Injury Expert

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets leading scorer fractured the 3rd metacarpal bone in his right hand on January 5th when he was fouled by Pacers forward Jeff Foster. There are five metacarpals in each hand, numbered that way from the base of the thumb to the base of the pinky, that basically connect the fingers to the wrist. Any hard contact to the back of the hand can cause fractures there. The difference between a serious injury that may require surgery and one that only takes a few weeks of rest is the amount, if any, of displacement between the two sides of the fracture. If the two ends were separated from each other, they would never heal properly. As long as they remain connected and in the proper alignment, they will, and it starts rather quickly. Why does he need three to four weeks then? Besides the obvious pain, any further contact there could easily turn a minor injury into a rather serious one if the fracture becomes displaced. It's really as simple as that. In a few weeks, new bone material will start to occupy that space and another x-ray should judge if he is ready to take some contact there. I wouldn't worry too much about this being his right hand because it's not in a joint so his range of motion should not be affected. His strength will, but he'll get that back quickly enough. You always do when it's a hand because you really should try to use it for everything. Rehab is an all day process. And another good sign is that he can continue to run and keep his legs in shape for his eventual return. His absence won't be as short as we would like, but it shouldn't take him long to get back up to speed.

Hamstring Problems

With that out of the way, what is going with all the hamstring strains in the NBA? That's always been baseball's lower extremity injury of choice, but now we are seeing a ton on the hardwood. Brandon Roy had his a week ago and it looks like the usual 10-14 days off will get him back. There is some optimistic talk he'll return this weekend, which sounds on target.

That's roughly the same initial timetable for Stephen Jackson and the Warriors. He injured his hamstring on Monday night in a game versus the Jazz and is said to be out a minimum of two weeks. As always that's no guarantee but look for reports of him running without pain and hopefully progressing to full practice. When he gets to that point with the rehab a return should come soon. Same for Jose Calderone who strained his right hamstring last Friday night, January 2nd. He's missed three games since but is getting close to the "game time decision" status. Unfortunately for all these guys, the decision doesn't end there. Even if he plays he'll probably have that question mark in his head all game long. It's hard to really trust that hamstring and explode like basketball players do when you have some pain back there.

The bottom line is you just know that if it pulls again, it's going to be bad, so it's hard to really let it go. Just ask Nets guard Devin Harris. He also injured his right hammy on January 2 in a game versus the Hawks. He couldn't go the following night in Miami, but he returned to the lineup on Monday the 5th, only to aggravate it and leave the game after only 19 minutes. Right now he's still listed as day to day, but figure that time frame in again from the second time he did it. That might be what it comes down to.

Jermaine O'Neal

Not good news to hear that Jermaine O'Neal is dealing with swelling in his right knee. He's already missed five games since this popped up and we all know his history….last year being the third in four that he's missed at least 30 games due to various injuries. It's too early to make a real prediction how much he'll miss this time but O'Neal was definitely a risky guy to count on in the first place. Fantasy owners should have an alternative plan in place, and not be afraid to use it.

Baron Davis

Curious situation out in LA no doubt with Baron Davis and his bruised tailbone. There's no question that a fractured or badly bruised tailbone can be very painful. We all know how they happen, and the only thing that helps is rest, basically lying flat on your stomach all day. I'm not about to argue that they hurt. What's odd about Davis and the potential stay he'll have on the bench is that it's been there since November? I would understand this better if he took two weeks off at the time then because this is usually not the type of injury that lingers or worsens over time. Usually, you get this, you're miserable for a while, than you're better. Hopefully Davis gets there soon, but with the information we have, it's tough to say when. This one's a puzzle.

Carlos Boozer

Carlos Boozer is getting his exploratory scope done on his knee this week. You can expect him to be out for at least two more weeks after that procedure, but depending on what they find during the scope it could be the season. Usually, before surgery, a decision will be made that whatever they find in there will be taken care of. It won't be a scenario where they find say a torn piece of cartilage or a little fragment in there that they sew him back up and make plans for the next operation. He'll get whatever his surgeon determines at the time is the best thing to do, and he'll deal with the news when he wakes up. He sure has a chance to come back this year, but it's was too early to tell when. The injury has confused a lot of people for a while…hopefully it will be cleared up by the weekend.

Gilbert Arenas

However, anyone who's expecting to see Gilbert Arenas back in uniform for the abysmal Wizards this season will probably not get a concrete answer any time soon. I hope you didn't think it was coming today. After three surgeries, the monster contract he singed in the middle of it, and the zero games he's played since, there appears no end in sight. There's been speculation lately that he's going to take the year off, no matter how much improvement he sees over the next few months. Then other reports are that he continues to improve and they still plan to activate him this year, no matter how bad the Win/Loss column looks at that point. From a practice standpoint who knows what he's doing right now. You can't gage a whole lot from him playing one on one or two on two without knowing what intensity he and the other guys are playing at. As always with significant injuries like this one, the key will be full contact practice. Only when he does that can we put a realistic timetable on his return to the lineup.

Mike Dunleavy Jr.

Mike Dunleavy was able to practice with his team recently and then he finally made it back on the court for the Pacers after playing in only 12 minutes of a preseason game so far this year. His return will be gradual though, especially for an injury like his that doesn't have that clear cut time frame to heal and be done with it. Just because he's able to play a week or so of scrimmages in practice and some limited minutes in real games doesn't mean the bone spurs have gone away. He has improved enough that he's able to play, but the jury's still out on whether he will continue to do so. That aside, assuming there are no hiccups along the way he'll need what amounts to an entire preseason of time before catching up with the rest of his teammates. It is great to see him back but I don't think it will be all that easy in the beginning.
Jim Russo is a certified athletic trainer with a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology.

Article first appeared on 1/9/08