Archives For injury

The Lakers lost more than a game against the Nuggets last night. Apparently, they’ve also lost their best three big men to injury as well. Mike Trudell has the news via his @LakersReporter twitter account:

Let’s take these one by one, shall we?

Trudell later emphasized, again, that Howard is out at least one week. It certainly could be longer. He’ll be reevaluated next week and depending on how things look we’ll get a new timeline. That could mean he’s out a little bit longer. It could also mean we play the waiting game on Howard like we did with Steve Nash (though, lets hope not). Only time will tell.

Gasol’s situation is a bit trickier. He’s out at least two games but it’s not just a matter of him feeling better. As you remember from last season when Kobe came back from being concussed in the All-Star Game by Dwyane Wade, the NBA has instituted a strict policy to establish a protocol that dictates a player’s return to action after a concussion. Gasol will need to clear every hurdle in this process before he’s able to play again.

Hill’s injury seems to be the most straight forward of the bunch, though he will be reexamined later today. The tenor of the news seems to imply that Hill will be back to action before the others, but as I mentioned with Howard, only time will tell. Hip injuries can be pretty serious in their own right and no player should be rushed back from injury, especially to a crucial part of his body (hard to do any of the essential functions of a basketball player with a bad hip).

Taken individually, these injuries could be accounted for. It’d be hard as all three are vital parts to the rotation, but the next player in line would have to step up. It’s how teams work.

However, taken together and all at the same time is another story. These are the Lakers three best big men and two of their presumed best four players on the entire team. Much like with Nash and Gasol were both sidelined earlier in the year, this Laker team doesn’t have the depth to compensate for missing these caliber of players. No team does, actually.

Logistically speaking, Robert Sacre will be called up from the D-League to play (and likely start at) Center. Jamison will be back in the rotation too, likely starting at power forward. Also expect Earl Clark to see minutes at PF to go along with multiple small ball lineups that see Devin Ebanks and Ron as PF’s (or, as D’Antoni hinted with Ron, even at Center). These aren’t necessarily desirable answers, but they’re the only answers available to the team at this time.

Almost every optimistic prediction about the Lakers for this season was tied, first and foremost, to health. Today, like it’s been for nearly the entire season, the Lakers took another hit in this area. I know it’s simple to say they need to play through it, but at some point you have to wonder if there’s simply too many instances of key rotation players going down to injury for the Lakers to come close to being the group we thought they could be. The rest of the season will tell us if that’s true or not, but news like today’s isn’t encouraging on that front.


For a team that will need to be as healthy as possible to achieve what they want to this season, things aren’t off to that great a start on that front:

For a team that can’t afford to have any injuries to its top players, this is obviously a major blow. Add it to Kobe nursing an extremely sore foot and Dwight’s back still not 100% and the Lakers are in a position, early in the season, where things are not breaking their way (no pun intended).

We’ll have more on this over the next couple of days, for sure.

The other day I wrote about the quest for parity, using a comparison between franchise quarterbacks in the NFL and the super elite basketball players in the NBA. It’s a comparison that doesn’t come without caveats as the difference between the sports and roles players take on for their teams can sometimes be major. You’ll have to indulge me again as the NFL is on my mind again today (and not just because the season kicks off tonight).

I bring up the NFL today because another bit of news from the grid iron caught my eye as it was announced that perennial MVP candidate Peyton Manning underwent neck surgery and will miss at least 2-3 months with the potential to miss the entire season. As a football fan in general and a person that appreciates the best players in the game from any sport, this saddened me.

But it also got me thinking about injuries and how easily a team’s chances can be derailed by an unforeseen ailment. Manning is the engine that powers the Colts franchise and without him they’re likely sunk, competing for a top draft pick next April rather than a playoff berth this winter. Suddenly the Colts have gone from championship contender to also ran. Such is the reality of losing your best player.

This is especially pertinent to me because as a Laker fan I too worry about a closing championship window and how fragile that can be. This past spring the Lakers were swept out of the playoffs in large part because their top players didn’t perform up to standard, but when looking closer injuries surely played a role in their demise. Kobe nursed a knee injury early in the season, an ankle injury towards the end of the year, and sat out most practices to rest aging legs. Pau Gasol came out of the gates as strong as ever, announcing himself as an early season MVP candidate before wearing down physically and mentally after playing heavy minutes without another viable Center on the roster to curb his minutes in the pivot.

Moving into this next season Kobe’s gone to Germany for a knee procedure that he hopes will help him practice more while still having fresh legs during the season but that’s by no means a guarantee. Gasol’s looking to recharge and reestablish his place amongst the league’s best by wearing his national team’s colors this summer but that’s no guarantee against past seasons’ hamstring issues cropping up again. Meanwhile Andrew Bynum hasn’t played a full season in 4 years and as he takes on more responsibility with this team his value and importance to its success only goes up.

Sometimes it’s the things you can’t control that impact your season the most. A lesson that the Colts learned the hard way this morning. For a fan of the Lakers, this serves as a sobering reminder. Here’s hoping the Lakers have a bit more luck in this area next season.


AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

After Matt Barnes injured his knee in Friday’s game vs the Suns Hornets, Phil Jackson stated that he wasn’t optimistic about the injury.  Turns out that Phil was right.  It’s now been confirmed that Matt Barnes is going to need surgery on his injured right knee after an MRI revealed a torn lateral meniscus.

So what does this mean for the Lakers?  While the recovery timeline can vary (and we’ll know more about that after the surgery is performed) we do know that Barnes is out the lineup and the team must continue on without him.

Obviously, this will be an issue.  Barnes, despite being a reserve, has been the Lakers most productive small forward this season outpacing Artest in most statistical categories per 36 minutes while also having a higher PER.  Barnes has also played very good defense holding the man he’s guarding to below league average PER when playing both small and power forward.  Besides the production, though, where Barnes has really helped are in his hustle and athleticism.  On a team that isn’t stacked with quickness or great athleticism on the wing, Barnes provided just that with his slashing and ability to fill the lane while running the court.  Not to mention he’s been an integral part of the Lakers’ rotation, playing nearly 21 minutes a game.

And with Barnes out, those minutes will need to go to another player and the hope will be that the production will be replaced by whoever fills in.

The first (and easiest) way to try and replace Barnes will be with more Ron Artest.  After all, Ron’s already getting the majority of the SF minutes each night (playing about 27 mpg), so an extra 5-8 minutes a night shouldn’t be too much of a problem for a guy that does keep himself in good physical condition.  Plus, Ron would probably appreciate the extra run (though obviously not under these circumstances).  In recent weeks, Ron has mentioned that he’d like to close more games – a role that Barnes (or Shannon) often fills as the second wing next to Kobe.  And in a way, this “opportunity” may be just what Ron needs to get back on track and find some rhythm with his game.  Last year, Ron often played without a viable back up and while his offense wasn’t any better than what he’s shown this year his focus and defense did have a bit more bite to it.  Maybe with Matt out and with more minutes available to him, Ron can fall back into last year’s role and find a bit more comfort in his game.

The other obvious way to fill in for Barnes is to play that Kobe guy more.  According to the fine folks at Land O’ Lakers, Kobe has stated that he’d have no problem taking on more minutes so it’s easy to imagine Kobe getting an additional 5-10 minutes a night as a SF than he’s had so far this season.  Mind you, this doesn’t mean that Kobe will actually play 40-43 mintues a night (I expect Kobe to still be in that 33-38 minute range), but it does mean that more of his minutes will be at SF with Shannon Brown likely being the guy whose minutes increase the most.

As for the other options, unlike last year, Luke Walton is healthy and available for more run.  In the past couple of games he’s been shooting the ball better and his feel for the offense hasn’t diminished at all while he’s been receiving DNP-CD’s.  Walton is the least skilled defender of all the Laker wings, but he’s surely good for 5-10 minutes a night of trying hard on that side of the ball while still bringing his Triangle know-how.  Where the Lakers can get some defense on the wing is in rookie Devin Ebanks.  It’s been reported that the Lakers will recall Ebanks from his D-League assignment with the Bakersfield Jam so there’s always a chance that Phil turns to the rook for a short burst now and again as a guy to play tough D or infuse some athleticism and quickness into the lineup.  Ebanks is probably the least likely player to be thrust into action (I see garbage time minutes and lots of practice time in his future, but not a lot of meaningful court time) but the young man does possess a solid skill set and has proven ready to play when Phil has called his number this year.

In the end, Barnes being out is a blow to the Lakers but not an insurmountable one.  Small forward was a position (along with PG) that was giving the Lakers low-ish production and that was with Barnes’ contributions.  So while the team may suffer some with him out it’s tough to say that it’s going to matter a great deal considering the team wasn’t relying on that position for stellar play each night.  A combination of more Ron, some Kobe and Brown, and Luke should be enough to get this team what they need from the position each night.  All that said, get well soon Matt.  The team will need you for the stretch run.

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It’s October 11, somehow still 90 degrees in L.A. and we’re almost two weeks away from banner night. While LeBron, Wade, Bosh and Co. continue to set fire to the league’s media landscape, there’s another story that is quietly dominating the NBA this fall, one sprained ankle and tender hammy at a time. The ever-present injury bug has reached full-scale epidemic levels during the 2010 pre-season with nearly every team—including several Lakers rivals—experiencing its wrath in one way, shape or form. If you look down the Lakers own bench since training camp opened, you’re likely to be greeted by no less than Kobe, Andrew Bynum and Luke Walton. Bumps, bruises, tears and aches are minor problems for some teams and full-scale crises for others. Let’s check in with some of the competition to see who’s still standing.

Miami’s Big Three took its first hit last week when Dwyane Wade strained his right hamstring in the Heat’s exhibition opener against the Pistons. No one’s hitting the panic button in South Beach, but as anyone who has ever hurt their hamstring can attest, it has the potential to linger if not given due diligence.

The Celtics responded to news that budding center Kendrick Perkins would be out for at least half of the season by signing Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal to help fill their void down low. So far, the injury-plagued younger of the two O’Neal’s has suffered a case of the butterflies and a more concerning pulled hamstring injury of his own that kept him out of the Celtics’ first two exhibition games. He made his debut last night and played five minutes, but Doc Rivers warned that Boston would continue to carefully monitor the injury.

Clutch City has been more like Crutch City the past few years and the 2010 pre-season has done nothing so far to rid Houston of its new name. First, there was the announcement that Yao Ming—so vital to Houston securing a top seed in the Western Conference—would be limited to a maximum of 24 minutes per game and likely wouldn’t play at all on some back-to-backers. Now, his insurance policy, Brad Miller, is nursing an injury of his own, as he’s day-to-day with a sprained left ankle.

Spurs newcomer Tiago Splitter received a rude welcome to the NBA, suffering a strained calf that has kept him out of San Antonio’s pre-season action thus far. Doctors say they’ll reevaluate the forward-center in 7-10 days, but this isn’t exactly the type of start San Antonio was hoping for from a player who is widely viewed as a huge factor in keeping the Spurs’ championship window open for at least another season.

Portland’s injury woes from the past few seasons have shown no signs of letting up with Greg Oden again out indefinitely and potential replacement Jeff Pendergraph announcing this week that he’ll miss the entire 2010-11 season with a torn ACL. This recent bout of injuries does little to instill much confidence in a team, who when healthy, is expected to potentially compete against the Lakers for the West crown.

The Nuggets—whose front court was already reeling from the absence of Kenyon Martin to start the season—lost his replacement, Al Harrington, for at least two weeks with a partial tear of the plantar fascia in his left foot.

Leading contenders for the Central Division title—Chicago and Milwaukee—have both taken their tumbles this pre-season, led by Carlos Boozer’s freak hand injury and news that Andrew Bogut’s surgically-repaired hand, wrist and elbow is likely to continue to cause him discomfort all season long.

While it won’t heal Kobe or Bynums’ knees or cure Luke of his back pain, it’s at least somewhat reassuring to know that most of the Lakers’ leading competition for the Western Conference and eventually, the NBA title, are to some degree, dealing with injuries of their own heading into the 2010-11 season. We all witnessed what one major injury to a key player (Kevin Garnett) did to Boston’s title hopes in 2009, so here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for all of the league’s wearied and wobbled.

Lakers celebrate their 15th NBA Championship with a parade in Los Angeles
Welcome to the off-season, when little things become big things because there is nothing else to talk about.

To me, that’s the case with the two current “hot topics” around the Lakers this week.

First there is the finger injury to Pau Gasol, which according to the best report I’ve read a ruptured interphalangeal ligament on the index finger of his left hand. To be fair it is not nothing — they don’t do surgery on nothing (especially when you can consult your mom the doctor like Gasol, who apparently was good with the anti-Kobe approach). I’m no doctor, but the reading I did on this didn’t scare me, it seems easily reparable. It’s on his left hand, which is not his dominant had but with Gasol’s amazingly diversified attack he scores plenty of points and makes plenty of passes with that hand.

So he is going to be out of action for at least three weeks, and may or may not after that play for Spain in the European Championships. I wouldn’t go blaming this injury on his playing for Spain — this is the thing that could have happened at a pickup game in El Segundo. Gasol goes up for a block and things go bad, that’s just luck.

To me, here’s what matters: The Lakers do not report to training camp for about six weeks, and do not play a game that matters until October 27. Which means Gasol will be there when it matters and I bet his finger will be just fine when he slides that championship ring over it.

I feel sort of the same way about losing Kurt Rambis — I wish it didn’t happen but it’s not that big a deal for the Lakers. At least short term, in this case.

Yes, Rambis was essentially the defensive coordinator for the Lakers last season (and the Lakers finished sixth in the league in defensive efficiency), but what he devised was not of triangle offense level of complexity. Really, its focus was on simplicity and making it clear to the defender what his role and responsibilities were. This is the kind of thing that the rest of the staff should easily be able to take over.

I, for one, am glad Rambis finally got another chance — I think he is primed for this and is going to a good situation with core of good, young players and a GM willing to be aggressive. (How good a GM he is, the book is far from finished, but he will take chances,) And to me Rambis is a far, far better choice than the rumored other front-runner Mark Jackson.

Rambis could not sit around waiting for Jackson to retire and hoping that Buss decides to go with him instead of another big name from the outside. We may have thought Rambis the logical successor, but could he really bank on that? You have to take the opportunities in life when they present themselves, you can’t hold out for what might be.

The Lakers do have the “who’s next?” question, but first we have to see if Jackson really will walk away from the roughly $12 million Buss will offer for another season. Jackson has money, sure, but that is a lot to walk away from. Then the issue is simply Shaw — no experience but keeping things the same and a guy it is known the players like — or bringing in a big name from the outside. I would favor Shaw (although the leash would be pretty short) but we can cross that bridge when we come to it.

For now, it’s the off-season and the stories out there just aren’t really stories.

Odom Diagnosed With Bone Bruise

Kurt —  January 7, 2009
Esquire House Hollywood Hills

Here is the official medical statement from the Lakers:

Lakers forward Lamar Odom was examined today by team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo and MRI results show that Odom has a bone bruise in his right knee. Odom will not play in tonight’s game in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors, and his status beyond that is listed as day-to-day.

There’s some very good news here — it is not structural damage, so no surgery. (With Odom a free agent after the season, that is huge for him.) On a lesser note, seeing what Odom wears on the sidelines for the next week or three also will be entertaining.

How long Odom is out depends on the severity of the bruise. Complicating the matter a little is this is the same knee where Odom battles tendonitis. It could be a week, it could be a month. (There are also severe bone bruises that don’t heal for months, but the way he got this injury doesn’t really look like that.)

Bone bruises are called periosteal. To quote the Sports Injury Blog: What happens in a bone bruise is a compressive force pushes the in on itself. When this happens the outer layer of the bone, which is fibrous, breaks down. This leads to leaking of fluid.

Here’s what I do know. First, bone bruises hurt like a son of a %&#$$. And, you can’t do a ton until they heal, it just takes time.

On the court, this is why Josh Powell is getting paid. He is a very solid, professional NBA player who is going to have to step in — he can’t do all the things Odom can, but he can be a solid four off the bench. And that should be enough most nights.

Nomuskles and others said it in the comments — for all those that think Lamar Odom is holding this team back, have scapegoated him for the Lakers problems, you are about to see just how much they need him. It started last night.

Kobe Out With Back From Knee Injury

Kurt —  October 21, 2008

UPDATE #3: Kobe was back at the Lakers practice facility today, walking around fine, and even expects to play tomorrow night in the rematch against the Bobcats. According to, he did not practice today and Phil Jackson described the knee as “a little sore.” If this were the regular season, he’d play. Preseason, Phil may well sit him. But, what really matters is Kobe should be ready to go next Tuesday when it matters, and at 100%.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled, over-reactive post.


The headline is scary, but the incident itself did not look that bad. He walked off the floor, limping, but walked. The Lakers list him as day-to-day, but with a re-evaluation today (Wednesday). It was not severe enough for the team to schedule an MRI today.

After a Sun Yue miss with 3:10 left in the second quarter, Kobe leapt for the rebound on the weak side, while Powell spun and went for the ball as well. Kobe bumped knees and seem to come down on Powell’s foot, apparently hyperextending his knee. He instantly winces and pulls his leg up under him, then puts it down, signals to the bench he is coming out. He sits for a second with Vitti, then they head to the locker room.

According to WebMD, hyperextension of the knee can mean injury to the ACL, but the extent can vary widely. We’ll update the situation today as news of the re-evaluation comes out.

UPDATE #1: Kevin Ding makes a very good point in the OC Register:

You can be sure that Bryant wouldn’t have been chilling out there on the court in his Gucci sneakers for the second half if there was even a remote threat of serious injury. Bryant is maniacally diligent in getting treatment, believing especially in the importance of treating injuries as soon as possible. He also wouldn’t have been sitting there cracking jokes with Sasha Vujacic to the point that Vujacic was literally falling out of his chair … hair flying everywhere.

UPDATE #2: Nothing to due with Kobe, but the roster has been set at 15. Joe Crawford and CJ Giles have been waived, while Coby Karl keeps his spot on the roster. The fast becoming a favorite of mine Mike Trudell at the team blog wonders if the injury to Sasha and the tweak of Kobe is the reason Karl got the nod. Maybe. I thought Karl looked far better in Summer League, but as we were not in the practices we’ll have to trust the coaches’ decision.