RotoWire Partners

NBA Injury Analysis: In Street Clothes...

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

Andrew Bynum - LAL [C]

The Lakers are waiting for the return of two impact big men for the stretch run leading up to the playoffs. Andrew Bynum has been sidelined since mid January when he subluxed his left knee in a game against Memphis. He also suffered a bone bruise on the play when he landed on teammate Lamar Odom's foot coming down from a rebound. A subluxed patella is a temporary dislocation of the kneecap from the groove in the femur where it normally sits. With the pull of the quad muscle, the patella moves up and down in this groove when the knee is flexed and extended. Sometimes, when there is more rotational stress on the kneecap, it moves more side to side than up and down and pops out of that channel. The bone bruise is probably a result of the patella banging up against the side of the groove, called the femoral condyle, as it came out.

Usually the patella subluxes laterally, or to the outside of the knee, because the muscles and other structures are stronger on that side, so once the swelling is controlled and range of motion is restored, rehab is usually focused on strengthening the muscles and ligaments on the inside of the knee and quad to maintain proper alignment of the patella. Initially, he was looking at eight weeks recovery, very optimistic for an athlete of his strength and size. As of a week ago he was working on an anti-gravity treadmill which allows him to run while supporting only a percentage of his body weight, and he was to progress as tolerated -- meaning, keep adding weight every time out until he's up to his normal body weight and experiences minimal or no pain -- then move on to basketball specific running, (sprints, change of direction) and agility drills.

I wouldn't expect to see him back before the playoffs unless the Lakers really want to push him, and you don't often see that with a young player of his caliber. So he may not be an option for fantasy owners, but could be a huge lift for a team looking to go deep in the playoffs.

Pau Gasol - LAL [PF,C]

Pau Gasol should be a bit closer to seeing action than Bynum. He sprained his left ankle at New Orleans on March 14th and has missed the last three games. We have detailed ankle sprains a few times in this column so assuming it's a grade one or two injury, he should only miss another week or so. He suffered a similar sprain during the preseason which caused him to miss about the same amount of time. The Lakers have shown they can win without him and Bynum, so why push them now? Maybe to have them play some together before the second season starts but only if they're both healthy -- and if they are, watch out.

Ray Allen - BOS [SG]

Another team with lofty playoff expectations lost a player for a few games this week. Ray Allen bruised his heel, also last Friday, during a loss to Utah. I guess you could say the Celtics are lucky -- he didn't sprain his ankle or twist his knee, just a bruise -- nothing some ice and a few days of rest can't heal. And do the Celtics even need him at this point? He missed three games in which they beat the Bucks by 20, then the defending champ Spurs by two and finally ended Houston's record winning streak, all on the road. Even so, just in case anyone around Boston was nervous, he returned to the starting lineup last night, played 31 minutes, and hit the go-ahead three with under a minute left to top the Mavs in their building. Ray Allen and the C's, injuries or not, are on a roll.

Caron Butler - WAS [SF]

Two other big fantasy players we have reviewed lately, Chris Bosh and Caron Butler, made their returns this week. Butler came back to the Wizards lineup last Thursday playing 41 minutes and scoring 19 in a win against the Cavs. The numbers weren't as good the next couple but his only complaints physically have been a sprained wrist, not the hip that has bothered him for months, obviously a good sign.

Chris Bosh - TOR [PF]

Bosh played sparingly on Wednesday night during a blowout win over the Heat, not because of any pain, rather the opponent, but he looks to be back on track. The Raptors have a relatively light schedule over the next week so he should be able to make an impact right away.

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

Article first appeared on 3/21/08