Some big-name players find themselves out of the fantasy rotation for the long haul this week. Andrew Bynum and Stephon Marbury, to say nothing of T-Mac and Jermaine O'Neal, are wreaking havoc on fantasy rosters this week. I'll go through each player's prognosis and let you know who is safe to dump, who is worth stashing on your bench and whom you should take pennies on the dollar for. If you are in contention for your league title, managing your injuries is crucial at this time of year. There are fewer easy replacements on the wire and dumping an injured star too quickly can crush you. On the other hand, in leagues with shallow benches, there is only so long one can hold on to players who are out for eight weeks or so.
Andrew Bynum, C, Lakers: This was the biggest injury news of the week. Bynum is going to miss at least eight weeks after dislocating his left kneecap in the third quarter of Sunday's game, after landing on Lamar Odom's foot. An MRI confirmed that Bynum had temporarily dislocated the patella (kneecap) and that he had suffered a deep bone bruise to the kneecap. The Daily Breeze reported that Lakers trainer Gary Vitti felt that it was the bone bruise that would take the longest to heal: "That's probably the thing that's going to take the longest to feel better, and how long that takes, god knows. I don't." Um, so we should just ask the Almighty when to expect Bynum back? Risking blasphemy, I will stick with the doc's assessment and assume an eight-week layoff. The Lakers will start Kwame Brown until Bynum returns but are in the market for free-agent big men. The L.A Times reports that they have been in contact with both Chris Webber and P.J. Brown. I expect little from Brown or any of these players if added. The Staples Center crowd already turned on Brown Thursday night, booing him repeatedly. Seven turnovers will do that. So, should you hold or fold on Bynum? I say fold in most cases, except in head-to-head leagues. Eight weeks brings him back in the second week in March. That's the stretch run and the playoffs in head-to-head. Rotisserie league players should let him go unless the waiver wire is barren.
Stephon Marbury, PG, Knicks: Finally. He's done. Thank you. Those of us who are tired of the drama can move on and look to the future at Madison Square Garden. Let's be clear, I am far from a Knicks fan but there comes a point where even this Boston-raised boy chokes on too many servings of schadenfreude. Marbury has elected to undergo surgery on the fractured bone spur in his left ankle and make no mistake, this was his choice. According to the New York Post, the press release the Knicks put out said Marbury, "has chosen to have surgery." This move boosts the value of two players: Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson. I really like Crawford going forward and would look to acquire him ASAP. If you haven't dumped Marbury already, you can safely do so now. The surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 22, and has a recovery time of two to three months. He doesn't want to come back and he won't. You have my sympathy if you drafted this roundball misanthrope. Remember this next season and avoid him.
Jermaine O'Neal, PF/C, Pacers: Ugh. It seems as if this guy is in my column every week. Seems or is? Regardless, O'Neal has once again tweaked his surgically "repaired" left knee. At this point, I think it is safe to call into question the commonly employed modifier used to describe O'Neal's troublesome joint. Clearly, the knee is not completely repaired. It has bothered O'Neal all season. The Associated Press is reporting that "O'Neal wants to get a better diagnosis of why the knee is swelling before he makes a decision whether to take some more time off." O'Neal is a player I would look to move in a tandem deal or even for a player with less upside. While it is possible that O'Neal will have some big games this season, I don't think these are worth the many off nights and games off. The Pacers are no longer his team; they are Danny Granger's and, to a lesser extent, Jamaal Tinsley's and Mike Dunleavy's. All of these guys have far more fantasy value than O'Neal and that should tell you everything you need to know about how you should value O'Neal.
Tracy McGrady, SG/SF, Rockets: T-Mac strikes again. I was all set to put him in the "Outpatient Clinic" before the Houston Chronicle reported that the oft-injured McGrady couldn't finish practice on Thursday. McGrady told reporters that he would not be playing in Saturday's game. He went on to describe how he was feeling: "In practice today, I really didn't look too good. I'm definitely upgraded from where I was, but I'm not ready to play right now. My whole game is based on explosion and cutting. I won't do my team any justice being out there and not being able to do the things I am able to do." Given the slow course of recovery, I advise owners in weekly leagues to bench McGrady for next week. It has been one setback after another with McGrady, and you will feel better seeing some real progress rather than praying for it. McGrady's upside is higher than any of the players mentioned so far. You really can't trade him at this point. Bench him and hope for the best. If he comes back with any kind of production, then make your move, targeting the bottom feeders in your league, who will be the only owners willing to take the risk that T-Mac represents.
Kirk Hinrich, PG/SG, Bulls: This one stings a bit as I was taken by surprise by Hinrich's absenteeism this week. His sore back has sidelined him for two games and to read the Chicago Sun-Times quoting coach Jim Boylan after Wednesday's game, it sounds as though Hinrich hasn't made a ton of progress: "Kirk is about the same,'' Boylan said. ''It seems to be getting a little bit better, but not significantly better." Thabo Sefolosha has played well in Hinrich's stead and this already has the trade tongues wagging at the Chicago Tribune. Don't believe it. Hinrich will stick -- Ben Gordon and his expiring contract are far more likely to be traded -- and though there is a very good chance Hinrich sits on Friday against Golden State, he should be back for next week.
Rajon Rondo, PG, Celtics: Could the real reason for Boston's recent two-game slide be the sore back and strained right hamstring of Rajon Rondo? That may be crediting the second-year point guard too much, but make no mistake, his defense and athleticism are key components of the Celtics' success this season. According to the Boston Globe, Rondo's MRI on his back came back negative on Monday. The team is just being cautious. Rondo told the Globe that he hopes to be ready on Friday, but added that "his teammates have told him not to return until he's 'fully ready to play.'" Rondo looks like a safe bet for Week 13, a four-game week for the Celtics.
Antonio Daniels, PG/SG, Wizards: The Wizards point guard sat out Tuesday's game with a sore right knee. This is the same knee that suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament, costing Daniels two weeks. The knee is not 100 percent and the Washington Post quoted Eddie Jordan saying that "he played very hard on it [against he Celtics on Monday]. It's good we're going to have two days before we play on Friday and then we'll have three days after that. So it's a good time to rest him." Daniels could very well miss Friday's game and owners should consider him a game-time decision. If he does sit out, the six days off should be enough to have him ready for Week 13.
Kenyon Martin, PF, Nuggets: The Nuggets are being stricken by their share of irregular injuries. Nene's situation has been widely reported but how about K-Mart? According to the Denver Post, he missed Sunday's game with a staph infection in his buttocks. He is scheduled to meet with the doctor on Friday. Staph infections can be tricky especially if they are resistant to antibiotics. We should learn more today but as soon as Martin is ready, the minutes will be there at power forward. Nene is not going to be back soon; he is recovering from his surgery.
Nene Hilario, PF/C, Nuggets: Nene underwent surgery Monday to have a tumor removed from one of his testicles. The Denver Post reports that the initial biopsy indicated that the tumor was benign and the team is waiting on more tests before announcing anything further. Nene is on an indefinite leave and can safely be dropped. Here's hoping Nene makes it back to full health.
Mo Williams, PG, Bucks: No worries here. Williams missed Wednesday's game with the stomach flu, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Considering he first came down with the illness on Tuesday evening, he should be fine for Saturday's game against the Warriors. You will definitely want him in for the Buck's five-game week coming up.
Darko Milicic, PF/C, Grizzlies: The Grizzlies big man missed the second half of Tuesday's game versus Cleveland after developing soreness in his right knee. The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports that Wednesday's MRI revealed nothing more than a bruise and that Milicic would be back on the court Friday against the Sonics.
Nenad Krstic, C, Nets: The New York Post reports that the Nets and Nenad Krstic have set Jan. 29 as a possible return date. Krstic participated in back-to-back workouts for the first time since late November. Given the modest offensive output of both Josh Boone and Sean Williams, there will be minutes for Krstic when he is ready to return.
Guy Lake is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at GuyLake@TalentedMrRoto.com.