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NBA Team Previews: In Street Clothes...

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

Paul Millsap

The Utah Jazz just can't seem to get any good news regarding injuries this year. When Carlos Boozer went down with his knee injury that has forced him to miss the last seven or so weeks, there was the opportunity for Paul Millsap to really develop into an elite power forward. There have been flashes, the most obvious being his streak of double-doubles that just ended at 19 games, but now he's fighting knee injuries as well.

Millsap sprained the PCL in his left knee in December when he hyperextended the joint. We looked at it at the time -- not a major injury, only caused him to miss three games. But now he's dealing with pain in his right knee, a result of a knee-to-knee to collision with a teammate in a win over Detroit last Saturday. The injury doesn't sound that severe; a bruise is a bruise right? Not in this case. When there is a contusion to a knee it's all about the location, and you just can't function as a basketball player with pain and tenderness there.

We have mentioned this before -- when there is contact to the front of the knee, right on the patella, the patella often bangs up against the femur behind it so essentially you have three or more different injuries, from one simple contusion. There's the front of the kneecap that took the brunt of the contact, but also the back of the kneecap, and the front of the femur behind it can all be symptomatic, not to mention the articular cartilage that covers the bones in question. For his and the Jazz' sake, hope there was no damage to that cartilage or he may very well have the same "loose bodies" in his knee that Boozer just had removed surgically. It's still too early to tell or speculate about that -- more often than not, players only need a week or two to recover from this type of injury, but right now it's still very painful, so there may be more to come.

C.J. Miles

Fellow forward C.J. Miles has also been on the shelf recently with a sprained right ankle he suffered last Wednesday January 7th. We usually put the time frame at 10-14 days after an injury like this one, so he should be nearing a return, but you never know.

Ron Artest and Tracy McGrady

As an example, Ron Artest continues to be troubled by a sprained right ankle he originally suffered back in November. Reports are that he's going to miss another week to ten days for the Rockets, but at this point they really can't guarantee anything.

On top of that Tracy McGrady will supposedly be shut down again, this time for at least two weeks, to rest his troublesome knee. We've seen these issues go back and forth all year and again, it's a bit alarming because it tells me one thing -- that the right people aren't always calling the shots when it comes to these injuries.

Delonte West

Cavs guard Delonte West suffered a fracture to his right wrist Thursday night in game versus the Bulls when he collided with rookie Derrick Rose. Early reports are that the fracture was nondisplaced, always a key to these injuries, but I haven't seen which bone was affected. While it is very positive that there was no displacement, some bones in the wrist typically don't heal as well as others so there may still be more to the story. If the location isn't one to worry about, figure the same time frame we talked about last week with Carmelo Anthony: about three to four weeks. Like 'Melo, he'll be able to run and keep his legs in shape as well, making his eventual return that much easier. Unlike 'Melo, West's fracture is in his non-shooting side so that bodes well for him as well.

Steve Blake

Blazers guard Steve Blake separated his shoulder Wednesday night and is expected to miss the next week or two. A separated shoulder involves the AC-joint, the joint on the top of the shoulder where the clavicle, or collar bone, meets the scapula. It's different from a shoulder dislocation that involves the meeting of the humerus and the scapula, but still can be very painful and limiting to an athlete. The AC-joint is easy to find, basically it's the highest point of the tip of the shoulder, and you can feel the meeting of the two bones if you start at the sternum and run your finger down the clavicle towards the shoulder. The reason it's so easy to find is one of the reasons it's so often injured in contact sports. Basically there isn't much protection over it, and aside from a few small ligaments that secure the two bones, there isn't much else to stabilize the joint. Shoulder separations, like all ligament injuries come in three grades, one being the least severe, so he's looking at a relatively short time on the shelf. This injury, as a lot we have looked at, could have been much worse.

Andrew Bogut

Back injuries are traditionally the hardest injury to outline, especially when attempting to put a realistic timetable for players to return. They are usually very vague when explained to the media and the bottom line is that often players will feel great one minute and possibly need help getting out of bed the next day. This is especially true for basketball players who have all the advantages of being extremely tall and athletic, but often their backs pay the price of all that weight being thrown around day to day. Also, the term we hear over and over again -- spasms -- is a blanket term often used to cover up more serious underlying issues. Andrew Bogut is no exception. He's been dealing with back pain for a while and will miss at least the next three games for the Bucks. This is clearly something to keep your eyes on.
Jim Russo is a certified athletic trainer with a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology.

Article first appeared on 1/16/08