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NBA Injury Analysis: In Street Clothes...

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

Amare Stoudemire

Late breaking news... Amare Stoudemire had surgery today to correct a partially-detached retina and could miss the remainder of the season.

The retina is the thin film of light-sensitive tissue inside the eye. It can become detached from the underlying tissue, causing all manner of vision problems. If untreated, the retina can detach completely, causing blindness in the affected eye.

According to the report on the Suns' official site, the surgery was successful, and Stoudemire is expected to recover completely. But in the short term, his physical activity will be extremely limited. On TrueHoop, ESPN writer Henry Abbott recounted a co-worker's recovery from retinal surgery; in the first week post-op, the patient was instructed to keep his head down -- literally forehead-to-table, and move as little as possible.

Stoudemire's doctors -- while stressing that recovery from this sort of surgery varies -- estimated his recovery time at eight weeks before resuming physical activity -- which most likely means he's done for the year.

Jameer Nelson

Magic point guard Jameer Nelson did in fact have shoulder surgery to correct injuries resulting from the dislocated shoulder he had during a game a few weeks ago. There must have been a degree of instability in there that he never could have played with and being his right shoulder, it doesn't make sense to put him in a brace limiting his range of motion because he wouldn't be able to shoot correctly. The Magic were able to pick up Rafer Alston from the Rockets so that should fill the void nicely for now. As for Nelson, the normal time frame for recovery from his surgery is four to six months, so he should be fine for training camp next year.

Tracy McGrady

Speaking of the Rockets, they may have lost the services of Tracy McGrady until next season. McGrady announced earlier this week that he will undergo microfracture surgery on his troublesome left knee, the one that was scoped last May but has never fully recovered.

We've looked at microfracture a few times before. Basically, the ends of the long bones in the knee and the back of the patella are covered with articular cartilage. This is not the menisci, the two crescent shaped discs of cartilage that are located between the tibia and the femur, rather a thinner surface that allows smooth movement of the bones on one another. Sometimes that articular cartilage becomes chipped or it wears away, leaving uneven edges or divots that cause pain and swelling. During the procedure, tiny holes are drilled in spots of bone where the defects are located. The resulting bleeding fosters growth of new cartilage, hopefully filling in the defects. There're a lot of factors that go into the healing process here -- the size of the defect, the location, and the age of the player, among others. But figure the course of recovery to be six to twelve months. Supposedly the spot McGrady needs to have fixed is in a non-weight bearing area in his knee so the prognosis should be good but you never know. That is, if he does actually have surgery.

The enigma that has been Tracy McGrady all year continues to confuse me. Not that I question if he is injured or not. I realize he's in pain, and that it has affected his play this year. You only have to look at his numbers to realize that. But my contention has always been who exactly is calling the shots on this? Player and doctor obviously should be part of the discussion, but so should the team's medical staff as well as their coach and management. That doesn't appear to be the case as most of them seemed to learn of T-Macs decision by reading the local papers. That's not really how you want one of your star players, who's collecting a healthy paycheck by the way, to reveal his plan to have season-ending surgery. Apparently the team was hoping to have a second opinion on the knee before any decision was made. McGrady may not be interested in another opinion so the drama continues. Either way, from our angle, I wouldn't count on seeing him again until next year's draft, and there's no doubt some questions will linger even then.

Danny Granger

Danny Granger is also a repeat name in the injury column this week. Granger strained a tendon in his right foot Wednesday night and could miss up to 3 weeks for the Pacers. While losing that 25 per game average will hurt some fantasy owners out there, I don't think the Pacers will lose much sleep over this one. They have little shot of making the playoffs anyway, they have some young players who could use a look, and we know Granger has been dealing with a knee injury as well. Figure this one is dealt with cautiously.

Manu Ginobili

Count Spurs guard Manu Ginobili in on the three week estimate as well. He was diagnosed earlier this week with a stress reaction in his right ankle, specifically the distal, or lower end, of his fibula. To put it simply, bones in our bodies are constantly being broken down by the body and then built back up again. Normally it's a simple transition that happens constantly and we don't even realize it. Sometimes the breaking down outpaces the building up and bones weaken causing tiny fractures. His injury is not a stress fracture, it's a stress reaction, which is basically the early stages of a stress fracture. The positive being that they caught it early enough to limit his time on the shelf. Once the healing process starts and new bone is laid down, the pain will diminish and he should be able to return.

Greg Oden

Greg Oden is dealing with another knee injury, not to the right knee he had microfracture surgery on his rookie year, this time it's the left. He missed a few games this week with bone chips in his knee resulting from a collision just before the All Star break in a game versus Golden State. Apparently there are some bone chips in there which could be no big deal at all, or it could be a major concern. It depends, like those little cartilage defects we mentioned before, on the exact size and location of the chips. Sometimes they float around in there for years before they become symptomatic. Other times players may never know they're their to begin with. Bad cases need to be scoped and removed right away, so there are still some decisions left for Portland. Early reports don't sound like they are too concerned about it, but as always we will have to wait and see.

Kevin Garnett

There was a scary sight for the defending champs up in Boston when Kevin Garnett went down just before halftime Thursday night with an apparent right knee injury. He landed awkwardly coming down from a dunk attempt and hobbled off to the locker room before his teammates, but did return to the court for some warm ups after the intermission. It's too early to tell what he's dealing with at this point….the early diagnosis from the team was a knee strain, vague to say the least so there are more tests to come on Friday. But consider it a good sign that we was still in uniform for the second half, even if he didn't get any run.

Chris Kaman

To answer the Chris Kaman question -- always be wary of a player of his size and stature who is dealing with a foot injury, specifically an arch problem that has caused him to miss a few months already. It's tough to tell what time frame we're dealing with as far as return, but even if it comes quickly, it will take a while for him to round back into shape. Best case scenario, he plays limited minutes the first few weeks, gradually increasing to the numbers you expected when you drafted him. Worst case, he makes it back, but still has pain and he could end up shutting it down for good. Unfortunately, it's still too early to tell what you should do with him. It really depends on what else you have and where you are in the standings, but we'll check with him again when he's closer to a return.

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

Article first appeared on 2/20/09