December 22, 2009

The Denver Nuggets were in town last week and arrived with just 13 players on their official roster. This seemed odd since most teams in the league carry at least 14 and many, like the Hornets, have the full complement of 15. The rules governing the number of players carried on an NBA teams roster are quite clear. The maximum number of players NBA teams are allowed to carry is 15. The minimum number of players allowed is eight. If one considers that only 12 players are permitted in uniform for each game (on the Active List), then all remaining players will be on the teams Inactive List and not allowed to even wear a team uniform for that game let alone play. Last Friday night that Denver player was Chauncey Billups, who had injured his left groin two nights earlier. Chris Paul took advantage of his absence by scoring 30 points, handing out 19 assists (one more than the entire Denver team), and missing a triple double by one rebound.

A fan asked me that night what would have happened if another Nuggets player had been injured and they only had 11 healthy, available players for their Active List? The answer is simpleand complicated. NBA teams actually are permitted to carry 11 players on their Active List with none on their Inactive Listbut for no more than two consecutive weeks at a time. So, it would have been permissible for Denver to do so at the Hive last week since the fans scenario would have placed 11 Active and two Inactive players; but had they arrived with 11 players on their Active List and NO PLAYERS on their Inactive List they could have been allowed to do so for no more than two weeks in a row before being forced to add one more player to their roster.

During our CST telecasts we always mention our Ochsner Inactive List prior to tipoff. In addition to mandating each team carry 12 Active players on the roster they also must carry one on the Inactive list. Teams have to indicate the players who are not going to be in uniform that night. New Jersey had fewer than 12 available players earlier this season for multiple games due to a rash of injuries (some smart alecks even suggested it LOOKED as if they were playing without five on the floor at times during their record-breaking 18-game losing streak!).

All of this inactive list talk brings me to Ike Diogu.

He was the Hornets key offseason free agent acquisition last summer. The hope was the 6-9 250 pound power forward with a 7-4 wingspan would provide size and scoring ability behind all-star David West. The former 9th overall pick by Golden State was hoping to resurrect his career in the Big Easy. It has been anything but easy for the big Texan.

He missed all of training camp and all of the preseason with a strained left knee and the first seven weeks of the regular season on the Inactive List. After working more than two months to overcome the soreness he underwent season-ending microfracture surgery last week.

The surgery (also known as cartilage regeneration) is relatively new, having been developed by Dr. Richard Steadman in the late 1980s and early 1990s. While the basics of the surgery sound painful (drilling small fractures in the bone to allow blood and bone marrow to seep out) it is also considered minor as an outpatient procedure that causes little discomfort. Still, the mere mention of a microfracture operation in sports makes most fans cringe because of the length of recovery time and inexact nature of the recovery. The fractures contain stem cells and create blood clots that release cells containing cartilage-building cells. Essentially, the procedure is designed to grow new cartilage in the knee. Based on information available on Dr. Steadmans own website there are plenty of reasons for Hornets fans to be optimistic about Diogus full recovery from the procedure.

First, a partial list of current NBA players who have undergone this surgery and returned to play at or near the same level as before is impressiveincluding:

  • Amare Stoudamire Phoenix Suns
  • Kenyon Martin Denver Nuggets
  • Tracy McGrady Houston Rockets
  • Greg Oden Portland trail Blazers
  • Jason Kidd Dallas Mavericks
  • Zach Randolph Memphis Grizzlies
  • Antonio McDyess San Antonio Spurs

  • Average recovery time is 4-6 months with a published success rate in patients 45 years of age or younger of between 75-80 percent.

    There are obviously different locations and sizes of knee defects and these can affect the recovery time and successful return of the player. One of the key elements of recovery starts with the use of a CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine. Patients are encouraged to spend 6-8 hours each day on the machine to help promote optimal re-growth of the cartilage.

    Unfortunately, Hornets fans did not get to see the former Arizona State standout play at the Hive this season; hopefully, he will join the growing list of NBA players who fully recover from the microfracture procedure and go on to long, productive pro careers.

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