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NBA Injury Analysis: In Street Clothes...

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

Tony Parker - SAS [PG]

The Spurs are down a couple backcourt men, one a lot more alarming than the other. Last season's Finals MVP is out indefinitely with bone spurs in his left heel, reportedly an issue since an injury he suffered in late November. Originally it was listed as a sprained ankle but more recent reports say bone spur, an issue we have detailed before.

Bone spurs develop in various locations in athlete's feet, one of them being the insertion of the plantarfascia into the calcaneus or heel bone. The plantarfascia is a think triangular shaped ligament that extends forward from the calcaneus to the ball of the foot. It upholds the arch and absorbs a tremendous amount of pressure when standing. Some have estimated that 60-70% of the population has some degree of spur formation in this area, most of them asymptomatic. But for high level athletes, they can be debilitating. Once pain develops, they are treated with anti-inflammatory medication, stretching and massage for the plantarfascia and Achilles tendon, orthotics or tape to support the arch and, when necessary, rest. Rest is important when either the pain becomes too much to bear or his play is affected.

Clearly this has bothered him the for better part of the last month. Parker's scoring and assist numbers have been down since December, leading up to Monday's loss to the Jazz and one of his worst games of the year -- 5 points, 1-7 shooting, and big-time defensive struggles -- prompting the move to the bench. An MRI on Wednesday revealed no major structural damage, that is to say he has a spur, (there's something causing the inflammation) but it is intact. If not treated properly, spurs can chip or break, leaving little pieces floating around in the ligament that must be removed surgically. He should be able to avoid that, but he did get a cortisone shot, so he's out at least a week. After that, expect a gradual return to play. There's no guarantee he's out of the woods yet, so keep a close eye on his situation.

Brent Barry - SAS [SG]

Adding Barry to San Antonio's injury list won't hurt many fantasy owners, but it could hurt the Spurs. The three-point specialist will miss at least the next two weeks with a calf strain, reported after an MRI late last week. The treatment is not much different than Parker's, but his game is not based on quickness and getting to the basket. A couple weeks of rest should be all it takes to get Barry back out there.

Kevin Garnett - BOS [PF]

Kevin Garnett is also dealing with a muscle strain, his to his abdomen. Originally reported as a quad strain after last Friday's game, he's missed three straight and word from Doc Rivers is that he's out until he's back to 100%... whether that's their next game Tuesday night or after the All-Star break. That's the plan, and the Celts don't seem likely to alter it. Muscle strains can take a few weeks to heal, especially to that area which rarely gets a rest even with activities of daily living. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, I would think caution is the way to go for a team that really won't be tested again until the playoffs.

Caron Butler - WAS [SF]

Butler played 51 of a possible 53 minutes in last Sunday's overtime loss to the Bucks, but at some point strained his hip flexor. The hip flexor is a group of muscles, including one of the four quads, and part of the groin, that acts to flex the femur, or bring the leg up as if kicking your knee up towards the sky. It is common in athletes and can be a long term problem if not diagnosed and treated properly. His injury in minor, (a grade 1 strain), evidenced from Sunday's stat sheet, and expectations are that he'll play Friday night versus Utah. Keep an eye out though as any muscle strain can definitely linger if you return too soon.

Michael Redd - MIL [SG,SF]

Redd missed that over time game last Sunday against Butler's Wizards but hopes to be back this weekend. He has a mild patella tendon strain, suffered during last Friday's game with Toronto. Sometime muscle strains occur in the muscle belly, where the majority of the contractile elements of the muscle are. Other times they happen in the tendons which connect the muscle to the bones they act on. Both can cause obvious problems for athletes, but his, like Butler's is minor. He blamed the injury on the loss of strength caused by the recent quad contusion he had to the same leg, but he feels this is nowhere near the issue it was last year when he missed 20 games with a similar injury. I think you'll see him out there on Saturday night, but again, watch any last minute updates.

LeBron James - CLE [SF]

James and The Cavs are dealing with some ankle issues. James missed last night's loss the Sonics with an ankle sprain he suffered the night before. He did return after the injury to score 17 of his 37 in the fourth quarter, but didn't trust it enough to go last night. He is listed as day to day but the trend with these ankle sprains all year has been at least a week, so don't be surprised if he misses a few more.

Anderson Varejao - CLE [PF,C]

The Cavs are thankful James' injury is much less serious that Varejao's, who suffered a high ankle sprain last Sunday when he landed awkwardly on another player's foot. A high ankle sprain is more severe than the ankle sprains you typically see because it involves not only the stabilizing ligaments on the inside and outside of the ankle, but also the syndesmotic ligament, a circular shaped structure which wraps the distal end of the tibia and fibula, the long bones of the lower leg. When the ankle rolls severely, it can stretch this ligament causing those two bones to separate to a small degree. It's not much but the swelling and pain is extreme and the ankle becomes unstable. More serious cases sometimes have to repaired with a screw inserted horizontally into the two bones to fix them together to they can't separate further, but his sounds like the typical RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) plan will take care of it. He won't be back until after the All-Star break, and may need a few more weeks to really feel comfortable attacking the boards like he's used to. We'll check up on him again soon.

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

Article first appeared on 2/1/08