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NBA Injury Analysis: Ailing Veterans

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

Games are finally under way and already the injuries are starting to pile up. With the first full week of games on the horizon letís take a look at several players spending time in the athletic training room receiving treatment.

Steve Nash

The Lakers newest point guard made an early exit in Wednesdayís loss to the Trailblazers. He left in the second half with a lower leg contusion following a collision with rookie Damian Lillard. The contusion is being described as a lower leg bone bruise, meaning the injury is to the bone and not the soft tissue surrounding the area. The effected bone is likely the tibia, or shin bone, because these bones are poorly protected. There is very little muscle or fat covering these areas, making it vulnerable to direct impact injuries.
Bone contusions take longer to heal than soft tissue contusions, primarily because the healing factors within the body have to repair the damage just as it would for a complete fracture. New bone tissue must be laid down to fill in the gaps created during the impact. The injury is likely to keep Nash sidelined for Fridayís game and his availability for next week should be made clear Sunday when the Lakers take on the Pistons. If Nash plays over the weekend it will serve as a good indicator whether or not he will be available for all three of Los Angelesí games next week. If Nash canít go, Steve Blake would take the reins.

Manu Ginobili

The veteran missed 32 games last season after two years of relatively good health. Unfortunately heís already missed San Antonioís first two games resting a lower back injury. The back pain began during the end of the preseason and has persisted into the beginning of the regular season. The team is listing the injury as back spasms but it is important to remember back spasms are not a true injury, but instead a symptom caused by some underlying problem. If a muscle is strained or a ligament is sprained, the body responds by entering the painful pain-spasm cycle. The pain caused by the injury creates tension in the surrounding musculature that is intended to protect the area. Prolonged tension leads to spasm. Spasms increase pain which produces more tension, which in turn leads to more pain. The Spurs' medical staff can interrupt the cycle using various treatments including medication, heat and cold treatment, and physical therapy. However the root of the injury must be discovered and treated if Ginobili wants to play without the fear of the spasms quickly returning. Fortunately for the Spurs and Ginobili, there have been indications that the spasms have ceased and the former All-Star is making significant strides towards returning. It seems possible he will make his season debut Saturday when the team takes on the Utah Jazz. Stephen Jackson will continue to see an increase in offensive responsibilities until Ginobili is 100 percent.

Eric Gordon and Danny Granger

Sometimes injury reports can be extremely frustrating, even for injury analysts. Both Gordon and Granger have been ruled out indefinitely with knee ailments but no specifics have been provided. The Pacers are currently seeking multiple opinions on Grangerís ailing left knee. The knee was first injured during last seasonís playoffs and continued to give him problems during the offseason. He underwent a plasma-rich platelet injection last month but the knee has not responded as quickly as the team expected. Until the team discloses the results of the further tests, fantasy owners should look for alternative options.

Gordonís situation is even more aggravating. Gordon has appeared in just nine games since joining New Orleans as the key component in the Chris Paul trade. He needed arthroscopic surgery in February on his troublesome right knee and has not been the same since. He recently admitted he has suffered a setback but, like Granger, details remain vague. Gordonís issue is complicated by his perceived frustration with his situation, especially when you factor in his offseason flirtation with the Suns. He has denied requesting a trade and insists he is focused on rehabbing his knee. However given the uneasiness of the situation and the lack of information regarding the chronic knee issue, Gordon remains an unreliable fantasy option at this point.


Kobe Bryant: A MRI taken last week prior to the start of the regular season confirmed Bryantís ailing foot is a contusion and strain. The Lakers feel playing will not make the foot worse so expect Bryant to miss practice time but remain in the starting lineup. He eventually could get the occasional day off if the team gets on a role but that seems a ways away with the team trying to develop on court chemistry.

Marcus Camby: A strained calf has limited Camby for the majority of the preseason but he is poised to return Friday when the Knicks take on the Heat in their regular season opener. However the Knicks are being conservative with the veteran center and may not give him a heavy workload to start the year.

Chris Kaman: A strained calf has also bothered Kaman and has prevented him from making his Dallas debut. Like Camby, he is inching toward a return and Coach Rick Carlisle is hoping his newly acquired center will practice on Friday and be available Saturday when the Mavericks host the Bobcats.

Kevin Love: Love is now wearing a removable cast on his broken right hand and plans on having a check-up with a New York-based specialist when the team travels to take on Brooklyn next week. Out since October 17 with a broken third and fourth metacarpal, Love is expected to return in late November.

John Wall: Wall is targeting a November 30 return but has not begun any weight bearing exercises like running or jumping. A late November return remains possible but he has to start making better progress soon for that timeline to hold up.

Deron Williams: Williams is claiming the bone spur in his ailing ankle is one he can play with but also hinted offseason surgery may be needed to address the issue. However if the inflammation persists, expect Williams to miss some time in order to rest the joint.