In Street Clothes...
by Jim Russo
RotoWire Injury Expert
This week's report should be a welcome change of pace for fantasy owners -- there aren't a lot of new ones to digest, mostly updates.
Sometimes lower back injuries are really no big deal. Despite what can be crippling pain they are no different than your average muscle strain or spasm. But some reports out of Atlanta indicate that surgery is already being discussed so this could very well involve a disk or one of the verterbrae in his back and that can be a much bigger issue. If that's the case than we've seen the last of him this spring no matter how far the team goes in the Eastern Conference playoffs. If not, a couple weeks of rest and rehab could get back in time for the post season, but as is often the case, time will tell.
Kevin Durant, on the other hand, should be nearing a return from the sprained right ankle he suffered February 27th. If he's able to suit up for the Thunder this Saturday, he would make it back right on that two week estimate we usually deal with. If not it should come within the next week
His teammate Jeff Green returned from a four game absence due to back pain, playing both ends of a back to back set this week, including a game high 22 points in 35 minutes of action on Tuesday. He was wrapped in ice afterwards but simply the fact that he made it through both games is very encouraging. Hopefully he'll only get better at this point.
Another pair of teammates, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett, should be making comebacks relatively soon. Rondo is also dealing with an ankle sprain, one that has kept him out of action since the Celts game against the Cavs last Friday night. He left the game in the second quarter with the injury, and made it back out on the floor later in the game, only to sit out everything since. According to reports, he's out for Friday's matchup with the Grizzlies, but is questionable for Sunday's game in Milwaukee. Basically this comes down to a day to day thing, and proves once again, that even the most trivial ankle sprains can be problematic. And they're also dependant on the team that these players suit up for and the point of the season these injuries occur. In other words, if this was the NBA Finals, you can bet Rondo would be playing.
I'm sure the same can be said for KG. He started running on a treadmill this week and reported feeling great so you can bet he's on track to return soon. Coach Doc Rivers feels next weekend against the Spurs or the Grizzlies is a safe bet and that sounds appropriate.
Manu Ginobili is still at least a week away as well. He's rehabbing a stress reaction in his right tibia. He's been able to shoot and run on a treadmill but he hasn't done any significant sprinting or jumping so he still has some work to do. If there aren't any setbacks when he does get involved with practice than figure a week or two and he should be back for the Spurs. You'll probably see limited minutes from him in the beginning, but assuming all goes well, he should be fine by the playoffs.
Finally Greg Oden has improved to the point he's performing some basketball specific activities like shooting and low impact post moves, but he still could be a couple weeks away. It's easy for some to question his desire and pain tolerance with his history the last couple years but understand that these are some pretty significant injuries he's had to deal with. The latest, a chip fracture in his patella can be extremely painful and limiting to an athlete, especially a basketball player who needs to run and jump for 30 to 40 minutes a night, and bang up against some rather big men along the way. Despite all that he apparently had a great workout with his teams' medical staff on March 11th, and although he remains out for Friday's game versus the Nets, he will travel with the Blazers for their upcoming five game road trip starting Sunday night in Atlanta. In a perfect world he'll be back in uniform before the team returns home for the Sixers on March 23rd.
Jim Russo is a certified athletic trainer with a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology.
Article first appeared on 3/13/09