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NBA Injury Analysis: In Street Clothes...

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

Elton Brand

The story this week must start with Sixers forward Elton Brand, who dislocated his right shoulder in a game December 17th versus the Bucks. The reports I saw described a tear in the labrum and a fracture. He'll be out at least a month but that is no guarantee.

When the shoulder dislocates, the humerus and the scapula often bang up against each other leading to various types of labrum tears and fractures. The labrum is a ring of connective tissue that sits between the two bones helping to stabilize the joint. The fracture is probably right in the joint, on the very end of the humerus, or to the spot it attaches to the scapula. As long as the fracture isn't that big and not displaced, it can heal well enough for him to return on schedule. Many players have had similar injuries, Dwayne Wade for one, and played with them. As with Wade it doesn't guarantee he will storm back at All Star form, or that he won't need surgery at some point, but as long as it's stable enough to play, he might be able to do it. The next month will be aimed first at getting the swelling out of his shoulder, then achieving full, pain-free range of motion in the joint, and finally strength. When he's done those three things it will be determined if he's stable and functional enough to tolerate basketball, and they will find that out in practice.

The fracture, again depending on a few things, may heal, but once that labrum tear is there, it's there for good, so there will always be risk of it dislocating again. Obviously, the story with Brand, who was probably still working his way back to form after the torn Achilles he suffered last year, and the change of scenery in the off-season, is not over.

Brandon Roy

Brandon Roy apparently wasn't bothered too much Thursday night by the torn tendon in his little finger. Last Friday, December 12th, he suffered the injury during a game in which he played 53 minutes, scoring a then career-high 38 points, in a double-overtime loss to the Clippers. Last night, he eclipsed that mark with 52 to help beat Phoenix so I don't think anyone's too worried. He does have to wear a small splint on the finger, and it is his shooting hand, but this guy is tearing it up right now. This could be a situation like Brand's shoulder where he has an injury that is there and will be there no matter what he does about it. He may need a procedure to fix the tendon, and will probably continue to wear a splint or some tape, but again the question is, is his joint functional? In this case I think we can say YES!

Corey Maggette

Corey Maggette is still being troubled by his strained right hamstring. He had an MRI which showed a small tear, but once again, that is really the same thing. He missed his 6th straight game on the 18th, but sounds like he's finally improving a little. He may join the Warriors during their current five-game road trip, but there's no guarantee he'll be able to play. It seems like he's buying in to the treatment plan currently in place for him so you know that will help him in the long run, but I still think the Warriors will handle this injury with caution.

Rafer Alston

Another Rocket was grounded last Saturday night when point guard Rafer Alston went down with a similar hamstring injury in a game versus the Clippers. He was out Tuesday night when they beat Denver and will probably be on the pine through the weekend. Reports are that he might be able to return Monday in Jersey or possibly the next night in Cleveland, but again, no guarantees here. Alston had a hamstring strain in the same leg right before the playoffs last year. Usually they linger a bit more the second time around so once again as someone comes back to help the Rockets out, someone else goes down. Will we ever see this team at full strength this year? If we do it could be scary.

Carlos Boozer

Carlos Boozer cannot be all that happy right now. He continues to sit out with a strained left quad tendon and bruised patella, originally suffered a month ago in a game versus the Bucks, and still has no concrete timetable for a return. He went through most of the team's practice Tuesday, the 16th, but still had some soreness after so he's getting another MRI to asses his knee. On top of that were reports that he plans to opt out of the final season of his current contract with the Jazz that stands to pay him over 12 million dollars. His own G.M. called the timing of that statement, "peculiar," and I can't really argue with that. You would hope the focus, after missing his 15th straight game, is on getting healthy and helping his teammates fight for a playoff spot in a tough Western Conference, not on how much he can improve on his current deal. Results of the MRI should be out today so stay tuned.

Gilbert Arenas

Finally Gilbert Arenas is worth a mention. There are some reports out there that he is gearing up the rehab and that he started playing a little... just one-on-ones with some of his teammates, but at least that's a start. But anyone who expected him back in December was dreaming. January, to me, would probably be out as well so with that in mind, it really is too early to tell when he'll be back. With his history, he really can't afford to have this knee fail again so he should be extra careful with it this time around. Figure he's going to need at least a month of good practice and conditioning, which he hasn't done yet, before playing in any games for the Wizards. And after the layoff he's had, what capacity he'll be when he does return is anyone's guess. Needless to say lots of unanswered questions remain with Agent Zero.

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

Article first appeared on 12/19/08