NBA PM: Al Horford/Kwame Brown Out for Year?
The Atlanta Hawks have confirmed that All-Star center/forward Al Horford suffered a torn pectoral muscle on Wednesday in a loss to the Indiana Pacers.
While the team has yet to announce a course of treatment, surgery is likely on the horizon. Horford will get a second opinion before making a decision. Regardless, the Hawks have said they expect to lose their center for three to four months.
“We are very disappointed for Al and our team and we wish him the best as he moves forward in the rehabilitation process,” said Hawks’ Executive Vice President and General Manager Rick Sund. “He has contributed greatly to our success since his arrival in Atlanta, and that’s evident by his selection to the NBA’s All-League team last season (third team pick).”
Horford started all 11 games for the Hawks, averaging 12.4 points, 7.0 boards and 1.3 blocks per night. Perhaps Zaza Pachulia is elevated to the starting lineup and Jason Collins gets some time as a reserve.
The Hawks are currently over the luxury tax threshold by just over half a million dollars. The odds were already high that the team would cut one of their non-guaranteed players (Jerry Stackhouse, Jannero Pargo, Donald Sloan and/or Ivan Johnson).
Johnson and Pargo have had begun to carve out a roles on the team and should be considered safe while Stackhouse and Sloan have made sparse appearances. Sloan, a 6’3″ guard, doesn’t quite make enough for the Hawks to get under the tax if waived which suggests the veteran Stackhouse.
Regardless, if the team intends to sign another player to bolster their front court, someone on the 15-man roster would need to go (either by trade or release).
To that end, sources tell HOOPSWORLD that Kirk Hinrich and his $8 million expiring contract is available in trade. Hinrich is recovering from shoulder surgery but is expected back by the end of the month or at worst, mid-February.
The Hawks are currently 7-4, just 2 1/2 games behind the top-seeded Chicago Bulls. Additionally, if Atlanta had designs at being a suitor for Dwight Howard, Horford’s immediate value in trade is likely diminished.
While the Orlando Magic might presume Horford eventually returns at full strength, rule of thumb is that teams don’t like to trade for injured players.
Kwame Out Too – Same Story, Different Player
Meanwhile, in similar news, the Golden State Warriors announced that Kwame Brown suffered a torn pectoralis major, “the large chest muscle that attaches to his right shoulder,” that will require surgery and a three month recovery (at a minimum).
“Obviously, we’re very disappointed, especially for Kwame, who was playing extremely well and had worked diligently since his arrival,” said Larry Riley, the team’s Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations/General Manager. “In a short time, he had proven to be the anchor to our low post defense and certainly lived up to his reputation as one of the top interior defenders in the NBA. He had provided us a big, physical presence in the middle, which is something that we’ve lacked in the past. Unfortunately, surgery of this nature typically requires, approximately, a three-month recovery period.”
Brown started three games for the Warriors, who will likely return Andris Biedrins to the starting lineup (who himself had been sidelined/hampered by nagging injuries).
After making a sizable offer sheet to DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers, the Warriors settled on a one-year deal with Kwame for $6.75 million.
Brown, a former number one pick, had a solid year in Charlotte last season (7.9 points on 51.7% shooting) and 6.8 boards a game for the Bobcats.
Through nine games with the Warriors, Brown has averaged both 6.3 points and rebounds while the team won just three of nine. Golden State has also been trying to deal with Stephen Curry’s recurring ankle issues.
“I feel extremely bad for Kwame,” said Head Coach Mark Jackson. “He had done absolutely everything that myself and our coaching staff had asked of him and quickly started to change this team’s image on the defensive end of the floor. If you look at the last week, in particular, he had some pretty impressive defensive performances, especially against some of the top scoring big men in the NBA. This is a blow, but Kwame and the Warriors will recover and move forward. I know that he will work as hard as he can during rehabilitation.”
Brown was injured in the Warriors’ biggest win of the year on Tuesday, in overtime 111-106 over the Miami HEAT.
So just like that, two centers gone for the year although technically neither should be ruled out for a playoff return (but then neither should necessarily be expected come May).
First All-Star Balloting Results In
The NBA released the first set of All-Star balloting results on Thursday.
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard was the leading vote getter with 754,737. Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was second overall but highest in the Western Conference (690,613 votes).
Based on the early returns, the starting lineup for the East would be Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard.
There’s a sizable gap at each position past the top five (next closest Amar’e Stoudemire, Rajon Rondo and Joakim Noah).
The Western Conference looks like it may be a Los Angeles-dominated squad with Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant and Andrew Bynum.
Durant, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, actually leads Griffin in the votes by 239,274 votes. Current NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki is third at forward, 162,432 behind Griffin. Distant hopes at guard and center would be first-time All-Stars Ricky Rubio and DeAndre Jordan.
The 2012 NBA All-Star Game will be held on February 26th in Orlando.
While there’s some speculation the Magic may look to trade Howard before the end of the season, but not until after they host All-Star Weekend, it’s conceivable that the Lakers and Orlando swap All-Star starting-centers before the trade deadline.
Voting is open online at NBA.com until January 31st, naturally a smaller window given the lockout-shortened season.
Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to insure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @jfleminghoops, @TheRocketGuy, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @alexraskinNBA, @TommyBeer and @YannisHW.