By Matt Buser
October 31, 2006
It's time to make those final roster and lineup decisions before the first tip of the NBA regular season on Tuesday night. Let's take a look at the latest updates for the major injuries across the NBA and their fantasy implications for opening night and beyond.
Shawn Marion (F, Phoenix – back spasms)
Marion sat out most of the Suns' Sunday practice, and his availability for the season opener is in question at this point. He was to receive treatments on Monday and said, "I don't want to sit out. If I'm decent, I'll go." The original injury to his back occurred when he took a charge from the Lakers' Andrew Bynum on October 22. Marion will likely be a game-time decision.
Kobe Bryant (SG, LA Lakers – right knee surgery)
Kobe participated in a full scrimmage on Sunday, saying his knee felt "strong" and that it was the first day he could "elevate a little bit." Coach Phil Jackson said that Bryant was "not sharp" but praised his conditioning, according to The Orange County Register. It's becoming more likely that Bryant will play in the season opener on Tuesday, but at what percent he would be playing at is still unclear.
Yao Ming (C, Houston – sprained right ankle)
Yao's injury, suffered in the Rockets' October 26 preseason game, was considered "slight" and is not expected to limit him. Yao said that "of course" he would be ready for the season opener.
Chris Bosh (FC, Toronto – plantar fasciitis)
Bosh missed four preseason games due to soreness in his right foot, a condition that is expected to linger over the course of the season. While there is no indication that Bosh won't be in the lineup on opening night, his condition will need to be monitored by fantasy owners from the first game forward.
Paul Pierce (GF, Boston – infected left middle finger)
Pierce missed the Celtics' final two preseason games, but returned to practice on Friday and is not expected to miss the season opener. He had half of his nail removed for treatment, and the infection appears on its way out at this point.
Mike Bibby (PG, Sacramento – mallet thumb)
Bibby will miss up to the first two weeks of the season recovering from damage to the extensor tendon in his thumb. His condition will be updated once a splint he is wearing is removed in approximately one week. John Salmons will see the majority of the minutes in his absence.
Brad Miller (C, Sacramento – right pinkie chip fracture)
The small fracture in Miller's smallest right finger is not expected to affect his playing status, and he will be in the lineup on opening night.
Amare Stoudemire (FC, Phoenix – left knee surgery)
Amare felt "sharp pain" in his knees as recently as Thursday, and it simply appears that he isn't going to be 100 percent any time soon, if at all this season. Stoudemire will sit when he experiences pain, according to coach Mike D'Antoni, but not when he's just tired or sore. Stoudemire has also become comfortable with the idea of being the team's sixth man, saying "I think it's actually going to help that I'm not playing 40 minutes a night." Kurt Thomas now appears to be locked into the Suns starting lineup going forward.
Marcus Camby (C, Denver – strained plantar fascia)
Camby missed the Nuggets' final five preseason games with the foot injury, but, according to the Denver Post, coach George Karl expects him to be available for the season opener.
Jason Richardson (SG, Golden State – left knee surgery)
On Sunday, Richardson participated in his first five-on-five scrimmage since his surgery two months ago, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "Everything felt good, but we'll see what the doctors have to say," said Richardson. He should still be considered questionable for the Warriors' opener on Wednesday night.
Antawn Jamison (F, Washington – right shoulder soreness)
Jamison said that he feels like it's already the midseason, as he's "already played a lot of basketball" as a member of Team USA at the world championships. That said, Jamison doesn't expect his sore shoulder, which gets "this tingly feeling and I have to try to shake it around," to limit him during the regular season, including the season opener.
Mehmet Okur (FC, Utah – left hip flexor)
Okur sat out the Jazz's final preseason game last Thursday in the hopes that pain in his left hip would subside. Okur practiced on Sunday and said he'd "definitely" be available for the season opener on Wednesday.
Chris Kaman (C, LA Clippers – strained left hamstring)
Kaman participated in his first full practice in two weeks on Sunday, and reported that his hamstring "felt really good." Before he is considered fit enough to be in the stating lineup for the season opener on Wednesday, however, coach Mike Dunleavy said that he needs to see how Kaman responds to Monday and Tuesday practices.
Troy Murphy (PF, Golden State – broken nose)
Murphy will wear a face mask to protect his nose as it heals, but is expected be ready for the Warriors' season opener on Wednesday and not be limited.
Sam Cassell (PG, LA Clippers – strained left calf)
Cassell's calf limited him to appearances in just three of the Clippers' eight preseason games. While it doesn't appear that he'll miss the season opener, Cassell's minutes may be limited in the early going at the request of the team's training staff, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Times is also reporting that Shaun Livingston is expected to be named the Clippers' starting point guard, a move based on production and not simply because of Cassell's injury status.
Andrew Bogut (FC, Milwaukee – lower left leg sprain)
Bogut's rehab is well ahead of schedule, and he's gone from possibly being out until the end of November to possibly playing in the team's opener on Wednesday. While he has yet to have been given medical clearance to play, it's worth noting that coach Terry Stotts has yet to name his center for opening night in part because he is waiting for the word on Bogut, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. If Bogut's return were to be delayed a game or two, a combination of Brian Skinner and Dan Gadzuric would play the five for the Bucks.
Speedy Claxton (PG, Atlanta – broken left middle finger)
Claxton returned to practice last week and played 15 minutes in the Hawks' final preseason game, recording nine points, four assists, and one steal. Claxton may take a little time to get back into 100 percent game shape, but the injury shouldn't limit his production.
Pau Gasol (FC, Memphis – left foot surgery)
No updates have come out since Gasol's September 8 surgery that have changed his timeline from a return somewhere around the first of the year. Stromile Swift and Hakim Warrick figure to be the beneficiaries of the most minutes while Gasol is out.
Samuel Dalembert (C, Philadelphia – strained left hamstring)
After playing just 13 minutes in the Sixers' preseason finale, Dalembert felt his hamstring "pulling a little" and he removed himself from the game "because I didn't want it to continue to bother me." Dalembert was limited for most of the preseason because of his hamstring, but has said he'll be ready to play in the team's first game on Wednesday. "Come on, man. I have to play," said Dalembert. Steven Hunter should see plenty of minutes until Dalembert actually proves himself in game action.
Marvin Williams (F, Atlanta – broken left middle finger)
Williams is expected to miss six to eight weeks while his finger heals, placing his target for a return in early-to-mid December. Shelden Williams has been named to the starting lineup in his place, and Josh Childress also figures to see a few more rotation minutes while Williams is out.
Bonzi Wells (SG, Houston – groin injury)
Wells returned to the Rockets last week after leaving the team for 10 days to attend to "personal" issues. Wells has participated in only a handful practices during his time with the team, and coach Jeff Van Gundy foresees a "two- to three-week period of time" before Wells will be acclimated, in shape, and ready to participate in regular-season games.
Kenyon Martin (PF, Denver – finger laceration)
Martin hopes that stitches to close a laceration suffered in Friday's preseason game will be out by the team's opening game on Thursday, and that he will be ready to go. Coach George Karl said that he expects Martin to be available.
Bobby Simmons (SF, Milwaukee – right heel stress reaction)
Simmons is still in a walking boot and, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, will be out for an undetermined amount of time. His original diagnosis, which has yet to be specifically updated, put his return around the second week of November. Ruben Patterson will start at small forward in his absence.
Kwame Brown (FC, LA Lakers – bruised right shoulder)
Chris Mihm (FC, LA Lakers – right ankle surgery)
Brown and Mihm are both expected to miss the first two weeks of the regular season with their respective injuries. Andrew Bynum will start for the Lakers at center on opening night.
Udonis Haslem (PF, Miami Heat – deep abdominal strain)
Haslem and the Heat have been monitoring the injury closely, as worst-case scenarios for this kind of injury mean months of problems. Haslem practiced on Saturday, however, and according to The Miami Herald, should be available for Tuesday's opener.
Jason Williams (PG, Miami – right knee surgery)
Williams is expected to miss the season's first two weeks as he recovers from knee surgery. Gary Payton will start for the Heat at point guard in the interim.
Darius Miles (GF, Portland – right knee surgery)
A timetable for Miles' return won't be set until at least the end of this week, according to The Oregonian. The results of a recent MRI have not yet been revealed by the team, and there is speculation that another surgical procedure might be necessary, whether it be major or minor in scale. Martell Webster, who has been dealing with back pain, Ime Udoka, and Travis Outlaw are the key players now in line for minutes at starting forward.
Jared Jeffries (GF, New York – broken left wrist)
Jeffries is expected to be out until mid-December as his wrist heals. In his stead, Quentin Richardson is expected to be named the Knicks' starting small forward.
Robert Swift (C, Seattle – torn ACL, right knee)
Swift will miss the entire season after tearing the ACL in his right knee this past Wednesday. John Petro and Mouhamed Sene are expected to see the early starts at center in his place, but Nick Collison figures to be the most effective replacement from a fantasy perspective on the Sonics roster.
Derek Fisher (PG, Utah – bruised tailbone)
Fisher expects to play in the Jazz's season opener on Wednesday, although to what degree is still in question, deferring to coach Jerry Sloan and the team trainer to determine how many minutes he will see.
Matt Buser is a Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert. Follow him on Twitter. Send Matt a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Tuesday, Oct 31, 2006 1:44 pm, EST
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