View Full Version : Injury Updates, including Amare, and Position Battles-By Matt Buser

10-07-2006, 06:02 PM
Big Picture: Sitting Sun

By Matt Buser
October 7, 2006

It's about that time NBA training camps have opened around the country for most and around the world for a few teams. We can finally make the transition from offseason speculation and conjecture and start basing our opinions and thought processes on things more substantive. Don't get me wrong, of course I'm as big of a proponent of speculation and conjecture when it pertains to fantasy hoops as anyone. But now is the time to turn our attention to actual happenings and specific situations around the league. Just as NBA coaches are beginning to cement their starting lineups and fine-tune their rotations, fantasy owners should be ratcheting up their player rankings, refining their choices as sleepers and busts, and deciding which players deserve a shot on their roster and which are waiver fodder. Let's identify some key injuries and position battles around the NBA that fantasy owners should monitor leading up to the first games of the regular season on October 31.


Proceed with caution that's the advice I have for those considering a draft pick on Amare Stoudemire in these early stages of camp. According to The Arizona Republic, Amare has removed himself from practice twice in the past four days, and Thursday's excusal was the result of pain and stiffness in both of his knees. "It's getting worse, so we've got to figure something out to make it better," said Amare. Phoenix's team physician said that there was "no appreciable change" in how his right knee looked on MRI's taken in May and just two weeks ago, a span of four months. He is trying to figure out "the best scenario, whatever it may be," and added, "I think recovery time will be smart." Where does a hobbled Stoudemire fit on your draft sheet? I know he's falling further and further down mine. With Amare not able to participate, Kurt Thomas has stepped into the starting lineup for the Suns and clearly would be the beneficiary of extra minutes if Stoudemire's status does not improve.

Dwyane Wade had an MRI taken on Wednesday to try to establish what was causing lingering pain and swelling in his right hand when he plays basketball or lifts weights. The MRI came back negative, so while it is now likely that it's not something structural, what is causing the pain is still unclear. Wade will undergo therapy and "give it enough time, and if it doesn't calm down in enough time, then shut it down for a little while." Wade may have been speaking in terms of worst-case and out of frustration, because Heat coach Pat Riley noted, "You have to remember, he hasn't had any treatment for the last month, and now he's getting treated, treated, and treated." He added, "It's nothing other than an inflammation." Whether or not Wade is overrating the extent of his mystery ailment, it is certainly a situation worth monitoring in Heat camp and could knock Wade down a notch or two on draft sheets if the pain and the uncertainty linger.

Kobe Bryant had minor surgery on his right knee on July 12, and his plans at this point are simply to be ready for the season opener. Bryant has not experienced any set-backs thus far, but doesn't want to force anything in camp, saying that the regular season is a long journey and he's going to take it one day at a time. For now, Kobe can be drafted with the expectation that he will be at or near 100 percent when teams start playing games that count. Keep an eye out for more specific updates out of Lakers' camp, however.

Jason Richardson underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on August 22, and his recovery is expected to keep him out of Warriors camp, which runs through October 11. Richardson said that he probably won't be able to play until the last two preseason games, which take place on October 24 and 26. Richardson was expected to be ready for the start of camp, but has yet to be cleared to play. According to the Contra Costa Times, he ran at full speed on a treadmill for the first time on Monday, and will need a few weeks to get back in to game shape once he is cleared to practice. He missed a few months of working out in the offseason thanks to the issues with his knee. It doesn't appear that J-Rich has suffered any physical setbacks, only those in terms of his time-line, but it is looking like he'll start the season a bit behind the pace. You may want to make a minor adjustment to your draft sheet and certainly be looking for updates.

Other injuries of note: Tony Parker said he is "back to 100 percent" after breaking his right index finger seven weeks ago at the FIBA world championships Speedy Claxton fractured his left middle finger on September 21 and his hand is expected to remain in a cast for another two weeks. Tyronn Lue will run at point guard for the Hawks in his absence Jason Williams will be out until mid-November as he recovers from off-season surgery on his right knee. Gary Payton is expected to open the season at point guard for the Heat Darius Miles' surgically repaired right knee is currently considered 80 percent healed, and he will miss practices for at least the next two weeks. Martell Webster has been moved to small forward for the Trail Blazers in Miles' absence.


Boston Celtics PF Al Jefferson entered Celtics camp 30 pounds lighter than he was when an ankle injury ended his '05-'06 season in late March. According to The Providence Journal, there were whispers around the team that he was taking his time coming back from two ankle injuries, he clearly wasn't in top shape, and as a result his defense was lackluster when he did play. While Jefferson's body has obviously changed, it remains to be seen if his game can undergo a similar metamorphosis. Celtics coach Doc Rivers has said that Ryan Gomes and Jefferson each have the chance to be the team's starter. While Jefferson spent the offseason rehabilitating his ankle, Gomes spent nearly every day working on his outside shooting and ball-handling at the team's practice facility according to the newspaper, and more than likely has the inside track at this point.

Golden State Warriors fifth starter Warriors coach Don Nelson is installing a brand new offense, a three-guard scheme that will move Troy Murphy to center and Mike Dunleavy to power forward. Who that third guard is, to go along with Baron Davis and Jason Richardson, is still up for debate. Mickael Pietrus is entering a contract year and has been largely disappointing in his three NBA seasons, thanks to injury and inconsistency. Monta Ellis was a bit of a surprise contributor for Golden State as a rookie last season, and played well down the stretch after Baron Davis was lost to injury. Pietrus seems the logical choice at this point, but Ellis could challenge, and it's a battle worth paying attention to in Warriors camp.

Memphis Grizzlies PF, C That Pau Gasol's fractured left foot will render him inactive until January is no mystery however, who will see the bulk of the playing time in his absence and if they will actually produce is a mystery. The talk before the injury was that the Grizzlies were going to go with a smaller lineup and an up-tempo game plan, with Gasol moving to center full-time. If the Grizzlies are still going to proceed with their plans to go small, you have to assume that removes the lumbering 7-foot-2, 290 pound Jake Tsakalidis from consideration for increased playing time. That leaves perpetual fantasy sleeper Stromile Swift, intriguing second-year player Hakim Warrick, slightly less intriguing second-year player Lawrence Roberts, rookie Alexander Johnson, and Brain Cardinal as the principal players. Swift and Warrick are likely to have the early edge, but keep an eye on the Grizzlies in case there are some surprises.

New York Knicks SG Knicks coach Isaiah Thomas has said that "every position is open" in the team's camp and "the best people [will] play" in the regular season based on their preseason performances. According to The New York Times, Thomas has used a first unit of Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Jered Jeffries, Channing Frye, and Eddy Curry in the first few days of full-court drills. Despite his strong finish last season, Jamal Crawford has been running with the second unit. While Thomas has warned to not "read anything" into lineups at this point, a number of prognosticators feel that Thomas would like to use Marbury and Francis together frequently this season in a wide-open offense. If Francis were to begin the season in the starting lineup, it could be a boon for his fantasy owners, while hopes that Crawford's late-season push would carry over to this season might end up being wishful thinking. It's worth checking in on Knicks camp for the pure spectacle of it, but also be sure to monitor this developing situation.

Orlando Magic PF/C Magic coach Brian Hill named Tony Battie and Dwight Howard as his first unit frontcourt as the team entered camp. It is almost universally assumed that Darko Milicic will play his way into a starting role in favor of Battie, but Hill isn't going to just hand the job to him. Darko added about 10 pounds in the offseason, according to the Orlando Sentinel, and is currently a "noticeably bigger" 270 pounds. Despite his 7-foot stature, he has more of a face-up game on offense, and, if he were to be named to the starting lineup, it would likely be at power forward with Howard shifting to center. While Darko being named to the starting five may only be a formality at this point, the even greater fantasy impact would have to be if Howard does indeed shift to the five. This is certainly something to track on a regular basis.

Portland Trail Blazers SG, SF, C Portland's starting five is about as unsettled at this point as anyone's in basketball. Of course, when you win a league-low 21 games, as Portland did last season, there really shouldn't be many players who carry the label of "incumbent." Jarrett Jack is one of Blazers coach Nate McMillan's favorite players, and he appears to be pretty locked in at point guard. Zach Randolph, although not exactly a McMillan favorite, nevertheless will be the starting power forward. That's when it starts to get a little tricky. Darius Miles was expected to start at small forward, but he will miss at least the next two weeks of practice because of his knee. As a result, McMillan has moved Martell Webster, who was expected to compete for a starting gig at shooting guard, into the vacant small forward spot. Travis Outlaw will also compete for minutes there. This may open up the door for Brandon Roy to start at shooting guard, but the team also has Juan Dixon, and McMillan wants Roy to play some point guard, as well. There is a chance that would result in Roy coming off of the bench. Meanwhile, Dan Dickau also figures to see some time as a reserve point guard. Got all that? We haven't even mentioned the center position yet, where Joel Przybilla and newly acquired Jamaal Magloire are competing for the stating spot. McMillan said at this point Przybilla would be the starter in part because he is a known commodity, but left the door open for the competition. What appears likely is that whoever is named the starter will share the minutes with the other much in the same way that Przybilla and Theo Ratliff did last season.

Seattle Super Sonics PG It was no secret that Luke Ridnour bristled after losing playing time last season to Earl Watson, who was acquired via trade with two months remaining in the season. It seems that Ridnour could be looking at losing more than just playing time this season, as Sonics coach Bob Hill has placed a premium on defense in camp, in particular at the point guard position. Ridnour has never been known for his defense, while being a good defender is precisely something that Watson has a reputation for. "Our frame of reference immediately would tell you that Earl is better at it than Luke," said Hill. "But Luke is capable and we have to get him doing that better than he did a year ago." According to The Seattle Times, Ridnour has played defense like a man possessed so far, as he attempts to hold down his starting spot. The two are likely to share minutes as they did late last season, regardless, so neither would gain nor lose an exceptional amount of fantasy value in either role. What would remain to be seen is how Ridnour would react to a demotion to the bench, however.

10-07-2006, 06:04 PM
Bogut injured in Bucks' scrimmage

October 7, 2006

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Bucks center Andrew Bogut left the court in the third quarter during a team scrimmage Saturday after banging his leg into Steve Blake's knee.

Bogut, who did not return to the game, was diagnosed with a contusion on his lower left leg.

Bucks coach Terry Stotts said Bogut, the first pick in the 2005 draft, was "going to be all right" and is listed as day-to-day.

"Whenever someone comes out of the game, you always want to make sure he's all right," Stotts said.

General manager Larry Harris told the crowd of about 5,000 before the scrimmage that the 2006-07 Bucks were the best team in his four years. He said the team's goal is to fight for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Bucks finished in the eighth seed last season and lost to Detroit in the first round of the playoffs.

"We expect that the people here today will be in the building with us in April in the playoffs," he said. "We expect nothing less."

10-08-2006, 01:53 AM
Amare is so toast

10-08-2006, 02:33 AM
We can only hope...

10-08-2006, 03:13 AM
Amare is so toast

It certainly sounds like it...

10-09-2006, 06:36 AM
Amare is so toast

No he isn't, you are getting your hopes up too fast. Amare has had problems with being stiff but guess what this is only pre-season. Fact is he was always likely to have some problems early. He has practised the last two days and been fine. It hasn't been a year since his surgery. He will be back and playing when the suns need him which certainly isn't yet.

10-09-2006, 07:50 AM
No he isn't, you are getting your hopes up too fast. Amare has had problems with being stiff but guess what this is only pre-season. Fact is he was always likely to have some problems early. He has practised the last two days and been fine. It hasn't been a year since his surgery. He will be back and playing when the suns need him which certainly isn't yet.

negative ghostwriter the pattern is full.

10-09-2006, 09:56 AM
I like the fact that no Mavs were mentioned in the article - good start so far...

10-09-2006, 11:14 AM
I think the Sun's loss of Thomas will be bigger than many have preceived...

10-09-2006, 01:59 PM
I think the Sun's loss of Thomas will be bigger than many have preceived...

Tim "Death Kiss" Thomas? Well, he did play a vital role in defeating the Clippers (which is exactly why they acquired him...)

10-09-2006, 02:23 PM
I know we all like the downfall of the Suns in any way shape or form....but I can't help but feel sorry for that guy if he can't ever get back to playing the kind of basketball he's capable of. I dont want to see the Suns do well, but I wish him good health. That's just kind of sad, if he really is still in pain. and I imagine he is frustrated as hell....