Occupational Hazard: Bum ankles sideline Parker, Varejao
Flu season has hit the NBA hard. There doesn't seem to be a team in the league that hasn't had players affected. There is sadly no predictability with a communicable disease like the flu. I mean, yes, if you saw Dwyane Wade taking a big gulp of a phlegmy Chris Kaman's Fresca, then you might predict that Wade would come down with something. I regret to inform you I lack that level of intel. Players share locker rooms, showers, and yes, the occasional Fresca. They practice and play in close physical contact with each other. It is a perfect breeding ground for viruses like the flu. Unfortunately, there are a few months left in flu season, which the Center for Disease Control states usually runs through March. While it feels like the illness is peaking right now with so many players affected, we will likely see it linger a bit longer. On the plus side, if a player of yours is sidelined with the flu, it is unlikely there will be many lingering aftereffects like you might see with the injuries described below.
Tony Parker, PG, Spurs: San Antonio, say hello to Damon Stoudamire. Stoudamire is going to see a lot of run during the next few weeks as he fills in for Parker, who was diagnosed with chronic inflammation in his left ankle caused by a bone spur and, according to the San Antonio Express-News, will miss at least the next seven Spurs games. Poor Tony, he misses the rest of the rodeo road trip. It turns out that the "sprained left ankle" the team reported back in mid-December was actually pain resulting from the bone spur. Bone spurs don't go away by themselves. Parker has already received a round of anti-inflammatories -- probably cortisone -- but I think this is an injury that could dog him for the rest of the season. In other words, while Stoudamire is a fine short-term pickup for the next two weeks, he could have value even following the All-Star Game.
Kevin Garnett, PF, Celtics: KG has missed four straight games with an abdominal strain, but I don't think his owners will be without his services much longer. The Celtics played this one smartly. They had just two games this week and don't play again until Tuesday. That gave Garnett 10 full days to rest the strain. In a lot ways, Garnett could not have picked a better time to go down. Weekly owners probably didn't miss Garnett much because of the Celtics' light schedule this week. With rest, Garnett should be back at 100 percent, which is exactly what owners want coming into a four-game week.
Devin Harris, PG, Mavericks: Harris' sprained ankle may be one of the major factors keeping him a Dallas Maverick. With Jason Kidd trade rumors swirling, Harris is one of the key figures in the trade -- the rumors have him headed to Portland as part of the three-team deal -- but with Harris injured, the proposed deal is on hold for the moment. Harris hurt his ankle on Sunday, and according to the Dallas Morning News, an MRI revealed a bone bruise in his left ankle. Harris is expected to miss another two-plus weeks. Until then, Jason Terry will start at point for the Mavs. We will see what becomes of the trade rumors and if Harris returns to the court as a Maverick.
Mo Williams, PG, Bucks: Tom Enlund of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel broke some big news on the Bucks' point guard on Thursday. It appears that Williams has been playing with ligament damage in his right thumb since Nov. 21, when he hurt it against the Lakers. Williams has had the thumb taped since then, but had not discussed it in any serious terms until yesterday, when he revealed that the thumb will require surgery. The good news is that Williams plans to wait until the end of the season for surgery. Unfortunately, in the rough-and-tumble world of the NBA, it wouldn't take more than a strong slap to make this a big deal. Word travels fast in fantasy circles -- I guess this column might have something to do with that -- so it looks like Williams' owners will not get a lot in return for him with this news. Sorry.
Anderson Varejao, PF/C, Cavaliers: Now both of the Cavs' early-season holdouts are missing significant time. In Varejao's case, it was one ugly-looking sprain that took him out. I am sure to Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas owners it looked beautiful when Varejao's left foot buckled sideways on Sasha Vujacic's foot on Sunday. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Varejao will miss 3-4 weeks with a high ankle sprain, complicated by bone bruises. As was the case during Varejao's holdout, Gooden and Big Z should see more minutes and better production.
Caron Butler, SF, Wizards: Yet another victim of the Sunday slaughter, Butler has been sidelined by a strained hip flexor and the flu. According to the Washington Post, the man they call "Tough Juice" is unlikely to play tonight. At this point, it sounds like the flu is the bigger issue than the hip. If Butler misses tonight's game, Andray Blatche will again be in a good position to put up strong numbers. Look for Butler to make it back on Sunday.
Editor's note: Since this was published, Pau Gasol has been traded to the Lakers
Carmelo Anthony, SF, Nuggets: He's getting closer. According to the Denver Post, even though Carmelo missed Wednesday's game, he reported significant improvement in his sprained left ankle. He was able to jump and shoot before the game, unlike previous attempts and planned to move into cutting and running. It sounds like he could be back for Saturday's game and that he should be a reasonably safe start next week. Linas Kleiza owners should prepare themselves accordingly.
Chris Kaman, C, Clippers: Another victim of the leaguewide flu pandemic, Kaman should be good to go for tonight's game. He was bothered by a shin bruise earlier in the week, but I think it is safe to assume he is past that now.
Ben Gordon, SG, Bulls: According to the Chicago Daily Herald, Gordon should be back on Saturday. This is a welcome relief to owners who have suffered through five games of Gordon's day-to-day status. Gordon told reporters that his right wrist is feeling better and that he expects to be 100 percent for the game against the Kings.
Jamaal Tinsley, PG, Pacers: The Indianapolis Star reports that Tinsley should be back for tonight's game. Given the scant amount of information the Pacers have shared about his sore left knee, I am taking this with a grain of salt. Even if Tinsley does come back, it remains to be seen if he can be effective. His past five games played have yielded averages of 3.6 points and 8.8 assists.
Guy Lake is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at GuyLake@TalentedMrRoto.com.
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