Ball Don't Lie - NBA

November 17, 2010

Big man injury roundup



If the last half-decade has taught us anything, it's that it's no fun trying to stay healthy while living the life (and some would say ... THE LIE!) of an NBA big man.

This season is no different, which is why we're going to have to keep tabs on just who is tabbed to sit a while.

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Golden State Warriors center/forward David Lee(notes) is still smarting, to say the very least, from a nasty infection he developed when Wilson Chandler's(notes) tooth found its way into his shooting elbow last week during a game against the Knicks.

So much so that the wound has been flushed out four or five times since the incident, and while this may cause concern about how the injury was initially treated, the Warriors took the record yesterday to defend their work with this nasty injury:

"We tend to underestimate it, but those are just bad wounds," Maloney said. "A mouth is so dirty that when there's a puncture wound, it often ends up just like this. We see them most typically on a Saturday night in the ER when somebody gets into a bar brawl."

I do quibble with one thing. Most bar brawls, in my experience, take place on Sunday morning.

The Warriors haven't released an official statement on Lee's potential return, but all indications are that he'll miss another two to three weeks.

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Theo Ratliff's(notes) injury sounds far less painful -- and, if we're honest, gross -- but the timetable for his return from left knee surgery is more troublesome for his particular team. Four to six weeks, according to the Lakers.

ESPN's Dave McMenamin has the quote:

"We're not surprised [about Ratliff's surgery]," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said after shootaround at the Bradley Center as his team prepared for Tuesday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks. "He's had some issues trying to get on the court after back-to-backs or practices and stuff. We knew something was going [on] even though he was game trying to go through it."

Ratliff underwent a menisectomy, a procedure that you have to be really, really careful about while typing it out.

With Ratliff out, D.J. Mbenga(notes) in New Orleans, and Andrew Bynum(notes) likely on the shelf until after Thanksgiving (when he'd then be slowly worked into the rotation and into shape), McMenamin reports that the Lakers are looking for help up front. Whether it is in the form of a veteran big like Erick Dampier(notes) (pictured to the right, battling with Ratliff back in 2006), or something from the minor leagues.

McMenamin:

They could also go the NBA Development League route. Drew Naymick(notes), who was a training camp invitee for Los Angeles, is playing for the Lakers' D-League affiliate in Bakersfield. The other top centers in the D-League include Courtney Sims(notes) of Iowa (who played on the Lakers' summer league team in Las Vegas), Cheikh Samb(notes) of Sioux Falls (who the Lakers drafted with the No. 51 pick in 2006), Chris Hunter(notes) of Fort Wayne, Sean Williams(notes) of Texas and Magnum Rolle(notes) of Maine.

Going the D-League route is always preferable in my eyes, if Dampier continues to take it easy, but it's especially preferable given the paucity of available veteran big men out there.

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The news is much rosier for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Antawn Jamison(notes).

In three games, all spent coming off the bench, since his return from a dodgy left knee, Jamison has averaged about 16 points and nine rebounds in limited minutes. That sort of production has Cavaliers coach Byron Scott wondering just how long he can keep the former All-Star on the pine, but issues still abound for the Cavs.

Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal has the report:

There are a few factors to consider, namely Jamison's troublesome left knee that bothered him last season and has already flared up twice this season. By bringing him off the bench, Scott can better monitor his minutes and keep him around 25 a night.

Scott also doesn't want to disrupt the flow of the reserves, who entered Tuesday second in the league in scoring (43 points per game). Jamison and Daniel Gibson(notes) (13.8 ppg) are big reasons for that.

Lastly, Scott has to consider J.J. Hickson's(notes) development. Hickson isn't really evolving yet into the type of rebounder Scott is seeking. It's a great area of need on this team behind Anderson Varejao(notes), and Jamison just happens to be the team's next-best rebounder.

Yes, Byron, please do consider J.J.'s development. He's been one of Cleveland's best players, and while I'm still in favor of a full-scale rebuilding project in Cleveland (Hickson, though a nice player, shouldn't be considered untouchable), the Cavs aren't really doing themselves many favors handing more than "look at him, that wonderful trade bait, ain't he swell?"-minutes to Jamison. Especially with Hickson's turnover issues keeping his PER in the mid-teens. More minutes can help those willies with the ball go away.

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Finally, as is often the case, all roads lead to Yao. He's a week away, probably.

Big fella, as quoted by Jonathan Feigen?

"It's pretty simple," Yao said. "We just wait for the feeling to get normal, no soreness and (when) I can push off with no soreness or pain. At that time, I will come back to the court. It's all about the ankle. It's improving."

Keep cool, my biggies.

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