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NBA Injury Analysis: In Street Clothes...

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

As All Star Weekend is upon us and the NBA takes a short break from its grueling regular season, there are more knee concerns for us to contend with in Indiana.

Mike Dunleavy

I've hinted for a while that Mike Dunleavy is dealing with a problem that is not likely to go away any time soon. Unfortunately for him that was the case last week when he aggravated the knee during a game February 8th against Washington, only playing three minutes in that one, and has sat out ever since. His problem is a bone spur, likely one that is not going to go away without an extended rest or possibly surgery. To his credit he's been playing…a total of 18 games since missing the first 34 this season…but you know he's playing in pain, and that takes its toll, especially when you're running for what really amounts to a non-contender. Coach Jim O'Brien said that Dunleavy should be available after the All Star Break, but that his minutes will be re-evaluated. That's not a good sign if you've been hoping to see him round back into the player we expected before this knee issue surfaced. Keep tuning in for more updates, as this story is obviously not finished yet.

Danny Granger

On top of that, the Pacers and All Star reserve forward Danny Granger is dealing with knee issues of his own. His issue appears to be patella tendonitis, an inflammation at the point of attachment where the patella or quadriceps tendon attaches to the upper part of the tibia. It could also be a problem known as patello-femoral syndrome, which is basically inflammation of the cartilage between the back of the kneecap and the front of the femur. Either way, he described it as an injury to the tendon in his knee that is required for jumping, and also said it's something that has been there since last summer. He's right; this injury is also known as "jumper's knee" because that tendon is vital for jumping athletes like basketball and volleyball players.

Don't be too alarmed that it's been an issue for so long. Most basketball players deal with this at some point during their careers. Sometimes a short break and some therapy is all it takes to calm down the inflammation. Other times an extended, focused approach to physical therapy and overall strengthening exercises will help. However there are other times when tendonitis progresses; the traditional rest, rehab protocol, and medication don't help, and you have a chronic, progressive condition like Dunleavy's that is not likely to disappear soon. Basically, when you play basketball, you deal with knee pain from time to time... you do what you can to prevent it from getting worse and hope for the best. In Granger's case, he's talking about playing in the All Star game, so that's a good sign, but the scene of him icing that knee during timeouts will not go away soon, so this should be watched. The last thing the Pacers can afford is another star player on the shelf for an extended time.

Chris Paul

Chris Paul is another player dealing with an injury but should be on the court for the festivities Sunday. Paul missed four games recently with a strained groin but returned to the lineup for the Hornets on February 11th, and played 31 minutes in a loss to the Celtics. Regardless of the stats….he only scored 13 points, shooting 6 for 15 and only totaled 5 assists, well below the line we expect to see from Paul….I always look at the minutes when players of his caliber return from injury. That total tells me he didn't feel pain, but maybe mentally he wasn't ready to fully explode off of that leg, and he attested to that after the game. He's also planning to go in the All Star game so he's getting better, and with another few days off before the Hornets return to action, he should be ready to hit the second half in full stride.

Chris Bosh and Al Jefferson

Two players who won't be involved in All Star Weekend are the Raptors Chris Bosh and the T-Wolves Al Jefferson. Bosh has been hobbled lately by a sprained knee he suffered during a game February 4th. That's pretty much all the details we have on him, but it has forced him to miss four games already, and like I said, he's out this weekend as well. The team hopes to have him back when they return to action next week, but we will have to wait and see.

We have mentioned many times that a sprain is an injury to a ligament while a strain is a muscle or tendon injury. While Bosh's sprain is inconclusive at this point, it's likely not a major issue. For Al Jefferson, it's a different story. A grade three, or complete tear of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), is a season ending injury that almost 100% of the time needs to be repaired via surgery. The silver lining, if you're looking for one, is that this surgery has become so widely researched and practiced in the sports medicine world that recovery time is now only in the 6-8 month range. So he should be back with team for training camp next season, but it will be a very long spring for the promising young player.

Jameer Nelson

Quick update on Jameer Nelson. As we mentioned last week, there are two options for his type of injury; rest and rehab -- and hope surgery won't be needed -- or surgery. The latest reports out of Orlando seem to indicate that he'll opt for the surgery. If that proves to be the case, Nelson is looking at a six-month rehab process, which would rule him out for the rest of this season.

Jim Russo is a certified athletic trainer with a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology.

Article first appeared on 2/12/09