Commentary

Cregan: Arenas' pain is Daniels' gain

Updated: November 22, 2007, 1:15 AM ET
By John Cregan | Special to ESPN.com

First off, before we get any further, I'll pause while you go pick up Antonio Daniels.

I can wait.

Antonio Daniels
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty ImagesAntonio Daniels should see a lot of additional minutes with Gilbert Arenas sidelined until at least the All-Star break.
Got him? Good. I'll tell you why you were wise to do so. Just take a look at his per-game numbers for the past three games (sinceGilbert Arenas went to the bench with what was said to be nothing serious): 13 points, eight assists, almost two steals and a 3-pointer.

No, he won't replace Arenas, but you've got to start putting the pieces back together for your fantasy team. It's still only Thanksgiving. Don't give up just yet! The Wizards aren't giving up! Was it over when Arenas and Caron Butler got hurt last season? Well, as a matter of fact, it was, but Butler's still ambulatory, so there's hope.

Now for the apology. I start my fantasy day by reading my hometown's (Washington D.C.) sports news. All outlets assured me that Arenas' knee would be perfectly copacetic. Using this info, I assured my reader(s) that he was perfectly fine to trade for as a buy-low opportunity.

Well, my apologies. My face is red.

Let's regroup, shall we?

Arenas apparently re-injured his knee during Friday's game. It has gone from being "a couple of days of rest" to being "out until at least the All-Star break."

Stephania Bell: Prognosis

Gilbert Arenas initially tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee in April 2006. The meniscus is a fibrocartilage disc that serves as a cushion within the knee joint. There are actually two menisci; the medial meniscus rests in the inner (medial) aspect of the knee and the lateral meniscus is located in the outer (lateral) aspect. They help to enhance the stability of the knee joint and absorb some impact during all weight-bearing activities such as walking, running, pivoting and jumping. Once a portion of the meniscus is damaged, the remaining meniscus is subjected to increased shearing forces, which it tolerates less due to its altered condition. Lateral meniscus tears are notoriously more difficult to rehab than medial meniscus tears and they typically do not respond as well post-surgery. Arenas underwent surgery in April, yet he had struggled so far this season with persistent swelling. Arenas had the knee drained multiple times, a reasonable step, but that failed to yield any long-term results. He then had an MRI last week which showed no additional damage to the knee. Ultimately, the lack of overall progress of the knee, combined with Arenas' sense that the knee was not quite right since Friday's game, set him back. Arenas had a repeat MRI Wednesday and shortly thereafter, he found himself in surgery.

As it turns out, Arenas had the other (medial) meniscus repaired, according to a statement in the Washington Post from Dr. Marc Connell, the team physician who performed the surgery. Additionally, Connell performed a microfracture procedure on the trochlea, the groove in the femur (thighbone) where the kneecap rests. The words microfracture and basketball player in the same sentence always prompt concern, but in this case some comfort can be taken in the fact that the microfracture-treated surface does not bear weight, making it slightly less delicate. Connell went on to say that they are optimistic that Arenas could return to action in about three months. Arenas will be kept very limited for the first few weeks while the microfracture surface and the meniscus heal. He will then be gradually progressed back to activity, but return to competitive play would require additional time. Given that this knee has been through significant injury already, there is always the possibility that the rehab time frame gets extended if Arenas faces any setbacks.

What's scaring me this time is that washingtonpost.com used the word "microfracture" in its report following Thursday's surgery.

Now, this is a family Web site, and there are a lot of words I'm not allowed to use. In my current state of distress, several spring to mind. But of all of the words I can think of, none give me more pause than "microfracture." It's a scary, scary term, and when it gets tossed around, my bile starts telling me "this is going to be longer than three months." That's just the pessimist in me, I'm not an expert. But I'm certainly not buying Arenas on the premise that he'll be back any sooner than that.

We need to wait a day or two to get a fuller prognosis, but if Arenas' return starts projecting into March, you may need to consider cutting bait. But I would definitely, definitely wait until we have more information. Arenas is in a contract year, and you can bet he'll be back out onto the court as soon as team doctors will allow.

Fantasy-wise, if you're a Caron Butler or Antawn Jamison owner, please accept my salutations. They're both going to go bonkers in the wake of the surgery.

The rest of their starting lineup won't see much of a bump. Brendan Haywood was already having a comeback season, and I don't really see him getting additional touches as a result of the injury. DeShawn Stevenson might post a slight increase in scoring, but not enough to get him off of the waiver wire in your league.

But the fact that Arenas took such a high percentage of the Wizards' shots means that a couple of marginal players (in Fantasyland) could end up being worth owning in deeper leagues.

Especially one.

Andray Blatche was a sexy sleeper in the preseason, then got off to a slow start as the Wizards stumbled out of the gate. Now the Wizards have won six straight, and Blatche is starting to roll a bit. He posted 26 and eight in Philadelphia Tuesday, and then followed it up with double-double against Charlotte … with five blocks to boot. Throw in the fact that he qualifies at center, and you've got someone worth a roll of the dice in medium-to-deep leagues.

If you're looking for a real deep name, keep an eye on Nick Young. He's a rookie and his game is extremely unrefined, but he can score. If the Wizards go south as a team, they might start giving some of their younger guys a look.

I know those of you who spent a first-round pick on Arenas are pretty upset right now. There's nothing more depressing than losing a first-rounder to injury, pawing through the waiver wire for something, anything that might replace that production … and finding yourself picking up Theo Ratliff.

But beyond the waiver wire, trade opportunities abound. This is a good time to try to make a deal for a player that might have stumbled out of the gate … Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Gerald Wallace are three names that spring to mind. With the holiday, Thanksgiving weekend is a good time to make some trades.

John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.

John Cregan

Fantasy Basketball
John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.