NBA Sunday: The Walking Wounded
NBA veterans will routinely tell you they’d prefer their respective teams to peak late rather than break out of the gates fast only to run out of gas during the final stretch of the regular season. But as we approach the playoffs, there are a host of postseason-bound teams that are battling injuries at key positions within their rotation.
New York Knicks
For the majority of the season the Knicks have remained among the top 10 in the league, but the club is hobbling down the stretch. All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony has missed time battling built up fluid in his right knee and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler is now listed as doubtful with a bruised left knee. Anthony has missed four of the team’s past seven contests.
The Knicks will also be without former All-Star forward Amar’e Stoudemire for the remainder of the regular season after the veteran underwent right knee surgery. Rasheed Wallace, who hasn’t suited up since early December after foot surgery, is out indefinitely.
Los Angeles Lakers
Ever since the season began, the Lakers have been battling the injury bug. Steve Nash, Jordan Hill (out for the season) and Dwight Howard struggled with their health early on in the campaign, but as we enter the thick of the playoff chase the Lakers will be impacted by All-Star guard Kobe Bryant’s severely sprained left ankle.
Veteran forward Pau Gasol has been sidelined for over a month after suffering a partially torn right plantar fascia. Gasol had been hoping to return back to the lineup this week, but the team recently announced he suffered a setback in workouts and his return is now up in the air.
Rose suffered a torn ACL during the playoffs last season on the same day New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert went down to the same injury.
Shumpert returned to the Knicks’ lineup in mid-January and has logged 26 games, while Rose has yet to set a return date.
However, over the past week, starters Jeff Teague and Josh Smith have both been lineup scratches at one time or another.
But the biggest long term blow to the team is the news that reserve center Zaza Pachulia is out indefinitely with a right Achilles injury.
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles isn’t suffering from a host of long-term ailments now, like some of the other playoff teams on this list, but valuable reserve guard Eric Bledsoe has missed over a week battling a sore left calf.
Veteran forward Caron Butler is working his way through strained left elbow.
When Granger was in action, he was a shell of his former self averaging just 5.4 points on 29 percent shooting from the floor.
There is no timetable set for his return as the club continues to evaluate his progress.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are currently the top team in the Western Conference standings but must overcome the absence of All-Star guard Tony Parker for the next three weeks as he recovers from a severely sprained left ankle.
The Spurs remain one of the most consistent teams in the league, but as we approach the playoffs age and injury continue to be major concerns for the veteran unit.
Kevin Garnett suffered the club’s latest injury setback, sitting out Saturday’s game with an adductor strain. Garnett’s status going forward is questionable.
Blatche Campaigning For Long-Term Deal In Brooklyn
The Brooklyn Nets appear poised to reach the postseason for the first time since the 2007 campaign. One of the key contributors to the team’s success has been reserve forward Andray Blatche.
Blatche has always been considered a talented prospect but didn’t display consistency during his time with the Washington Wizards and soon after his work ethic and dedication to the game came under scrutiny.
Washington amnestied Blatche and still owes the big man over $16 million the next two seasons. Blatche signed a one-year deal with Brooklyn during the offseason and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. With averages of 10.1 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor in less than 20 minutes per night, the 6’11 Blatche will likely be in high demand.
The forward maintains that he is enjoying his time in Brooklyn and would like to be a part of the franchise’s long term plans.
“Most definitely, I love it here,” Blatche told ESPN New York. “We’ve got a great team here, a great staff. The fans are crazy. I mean, everything about this organization is great, so hopefully I can come back.
“I feel like this is my new home, now, really. I feel comfortable with everything that’s going on.”
The Nets have $84 million in guaranteed salary commitments already on the books for next season, which will put the team far into the luxury tax. The most Brooklyn could offer Blatche in free agency is the taxpayer mid-level exception, which is worth $9 million over three seasons.
NCAA Selection Sunday
March Madness is here and the tournament is upon us. The NCAA will be announcing the final at-large teams later this evening. Let’s take a look at some of HOOPSWORLD’s latest NCAA coverage, from mock drafts to top prospects.