Knees seem to be the word today in the rumors and news. First of all, on the mind of most Boston fans is not a basketball knee, but a football knee. Tom Brady, NFL's reigning MVP and three-time Super Bowl champion, crushed the hearts of Patriots fans as he went down with a scream in last night's game. The word is that he has a torn ACL and will be out for the season. So much for all those polls that picked the Patriots to win the next championship in Boston. Without Brady, that seems like an unlikely prediction.
The Kings' Shareef Abdur-Rahim is in Africa right now with Basketball without Borders, but will soon be back in Sacramento with a big decision to make. His right knee was operated on for the second time in six months about 2 months ago will determine whether he takes part in the Kings' training camp. If not, he may decide on retirement and possibly a coaching career. His rehab from the knee injury has been slow and he plans to focus on that and the decision as to whether to participate in training camp when he returns to the US.
Allan Houston retired on Oct. 17, 2005 after chronic knee troubles. He attempted a comeback last season, but fell short as he lasted through one preseason game and then called it quits. But Houston continued to workout throughout the winter and played at the Nike Pro City league this summer and is ready for another attmpt at a comeback. Houston has spoken recently with Donnie Walsh about an invite to training camp and word is that Walsh is interested in giving Houston a chance. If Houston's knees and game can't hold up, then Walsh may offer him a job in the basketball operations side of the franchise.
The Cavs are waiting to hear from the league on a disability claim they filed on guard Eric Snow. The veteran guard is retiring and will not play this season because of chronic problems with his left knee stemming from an injury last season. If the claim is accepted, the team could save more than $10 million when combining insurance coverage and luxury tax savings. Every time I hear about the league granting cap relief for an injury it really irks me because when the Celtics applied for relief when Reggie Lewis died, the league refused them any relief whatsoever and that helped to deepen the downward spiral that resulted in the 22 year championship drought. I am really pulling for Darius Miles to do well and play in 10 games this season to stick it to both the Blazers and the league. They grant cap relief for supposed career ending injuries, but not for a death and you don't get any more career ending than that.
Andrew Bynum has declared his knee 100% healthy and ready for training camp. Lakers' fans pointed to the absence of Bynum as one of the reasons they lost in the finals, but I really don't think it would have mattered. Kendrick Perkins seems to have Bynum's number as in the two games against the Lakers with Bynum last season as he averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds in 29 minutes opposed to 6 points and 5 rebounds for Bynum in 25 minutes. With Bynum's knee healthy again, his presence at center will move Pau Gasol to power forward where I expect he will be just as soft as he was at center. Before last season, Kobe leveled some withering criticism against Bynum and he was playing well and answering the criticism before the injury. But, as we have seen from Tony Allen's injury, sometimes it takes awhile for players to get their game back after a serious knee injury. Athlon Sports doesn't see Bynum's return as enough to get the Lakers past the Hornets this season as they pick the Hornets to win it all.
Bill Walker, the Celtics 2nd round pick, is very positive about his progress after his post draft surgery. This was his third knee surgery but was minor compared to the two ACL tears he already recovered from. He was originally projected to be a lottery pick but the knee injury during workouts caused him to drop to #47 where the Celtics got him from the Wizards for cash considerations. Originally, the Celtics planned to try to send him overseas for this season but after watching his workouts in Boston after the surgery, they decided that he can help the team this season and signed him. I have been very impressed with his attitude and work ethic and can't wait to see him play. I think Danny got a steal and he is going to be part of the present as well as a big part of the future of this team.
Another player returning from knee surgery is Greg Oden. While reports of his workouts have been very positive, Oden is more conservative when it comes to assessing his physical condition going into camp. My guess is that after his first major injury, he just isn't sure how the knee will react to day in and day out contact. I am sure he will be fine and is my pick for rookie of the year.
Speaking of Kobe, he announced last week that he would announce today the date for his pinky surgery. How melodramatic can you get? He will make the big revelation on his website, KB24.com. Recovery time is expected to last at least six weeks, so if he has the surgery immediately, the soonest he would be back on the court would be the second week in October. This means he would miss most of training camp, but likely be ready for the season opener on October 28.
Shaun Livingston continues to work out in his attempt to return from what was considered by many to be a career ending injury. The Warriors are giving him serious consideration in the wake of the serious injury to Monta Ellis. The Heat are also looking for a point guard and have been reported to have interest in Livingston. If he is healthy, he is a very intriguing point guard and at 6'7" with his defensive skills, could be a matchup nightmare for opposing teams. The fact that no one has signed him as yet makes me wonder if he isn't as far along in his rehab as has been reported.
The Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly the Seattle Supersonics) are in the news for several reasons. First, the franchise set sales records for Thunder merchandise in the first 24 hours after the team announced the nickname. This isn't surprising since every Sonics fan and every new OKC fan had to get all new shirts, jerseys, etc since none was in existence before this. Second, the Ford Center where the Thunder will play is getting a new floor for the new franchise. The same company that constructed the Boston Celtics' famed parquet floor, has built a new court that will be used by the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 6,720-square foot maple court, built to NBA specifications is expected to be delivered by October 20 and ready for the team's season opener. Third, Thunder tickets are in such high demand that many fans in line to get them will be left out and put on a waiting list. They expect the 15,000 to 16,000 seats for season tickets to be sold out by the weekend.
The Hornets will resume business operations in New Orleans today. They had shut down on Aug. 29 so employees could make evacuation plans ahead of Hurricane Gustav. Fortunately, New Orleans didn't take a direct hit from Gustav and it came ashore weaker than originally expected. Also fortunate was the fact that this time the levees held and the Hornets have an arena to come back to. Unfortunately, they are coming back just in time to evacuate for Hurricane Ike that is now headed their way. I am watching Ike carefully as it could also be coming my way.
The Knicks' quest to trade Zach Randolph's cap-killing contract, and rid the franchise of one more reminder of the Isiah Thomas era, is heating up with talks between Memphis and NY on a trade that would send Randolph to the Grizzlies in return for Darko Milicic and Marko Jaric moving closer to the deal happening. This trade would save the Knicks around $10 million in the summer of 2010 when they hope to make a pitch for LeBron James. (personally, I would rather go after Chris Bosh) The trade would give the Knicks 17 players which is two over the maximum. I expect another reminder of the Isiah administration, Stephon Marbury, to be bought out sometime before the season starts.