By Chris Cates,

Injuries. Can’t live with them, unless they happen to a player on another guy’s team, in which it’s kind of funny. In a league that has seen its share of stars go under the knife this past year and uncertainty of their respective statuses abound, a savior – if you will – is needed in a bad way. I, my friends, am that savior. So without further ado, let’s sort out this mess…

Major Injuries and Surgeries

Yao Ming (surgery for broken foot) – He says that everything is going smoothly and declares himself healthy. He originally broke the foot on April 10th and had surgery very soon thereafter. There’s definitely room for concern here as Yao broke the same foot when he was 19, then had ankle surgery on the foot, then had toe surgery on the foot and has now broken it again. Coach Jeff Van Gundy voiced concern when he said that foot problems on big guys were especially problematic, listing all the different injuries to Yao's left foot. There’s no denying that players of Yao’s size are more affected by foot problems, and when you’ve had as many injuries to the same foot as he has and are coming off a major off-season surgery, there’s definitely reason for concern.

Damon Stoudamire (major knee surgery) – Mighty Mouse had season-ending knee surgery back in January. All reports since the injury have been of the positive variety, most of which pinned him as well ahead of schedule. Also, just days after team owner Jerry West voiced concern about the injury, Stoudamire reportedly worked out for the Grizzlies’ coaches and management, looking “quick and confident” and kicking all doubt to the curb. Stoudamire is atop the depth chart heading into the season, with re-signed Chucky Atkins and rookie Kyle Lowry behind him. Some will drop him on their draft lists because of the injury – just don’t be one of them.

Troy Hudson (ankle surgery) – He injured his right ankle in early February, then (seemingly) was listed as day-to-day until mid-March when he was deemed out for the season. He tried as hard as he could to avoid surgery but ended up having it, and while some reports say he’s doing well, others say he could very conceivably miss the entire 2006-07 campaign. He’s expected to work out for Wolves officials some time after August 15 to show them how he’s progressing and give them a feel for when he’ll be able to return. If he does end up being healthy for the start of the season, he’ll be competing with Mike James, Marko Jaric, Randy Foye and Ricky Davis for playing time. If you have any sense, you’ll let someone else draft him.

Rashad McCants (microfracture surgery on right knee) – McCants had microfracture surgery on his right knee in mid-June. Initial reports have him missing 4-6 months, which would likely have him missing the beginning of the regular season at the very least. It is, however, worth noting that this is the same injury that one Amare Stoudemire has been dealing with, and I’m sure you know what ended up happening there. Sitting the entire season out is a distinct possibility, and that’s not the kind of possibility I want on my roster.

This is the Amare Stoudemire you hope to see - not the one in street clothes.
(Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images)

Amare Stoudemire (rehabbing knee that kept him out almost all of last season) – After missing nearly all of last season due to injury, Stoudemire has played in summer league games and come away from them feeling good, which is obviously a positive sign. He was recently dropped from the U.S. basketball roster when managing director Jerry Colangelo “…concluded that it would be difficult for Amare to continue with the rehabilitation he needs to do while the team continues its training in Asia”. Despite that, given the progress he’s made and the good reports coming out of Phoenix, it seems he’ll be close to the Amare we came to know before the injury.

Bob Sura (injured knee, back) – Sura hasn’t played in a game since the 2005 playoffs. He says he’s using the remainder of the off-season as his own personal tryout. Whenever a player says he’s using the off-season as a tryout, he likely won’t make much of an impact – at least in the early going. There isn’t a ton of depth in the Houston backcourt at the moment, but one would be crazy to draft Sura at this point given the uncertainty surrounding him.

Al Jefferson (arthroscopic surgery on right ankle) – While this isn’t a major surgery and while Jefferson is expected back by the start of training camp, I’m still classifying the injury as “major” for a couple of reasons. The injury caused Jefferson to miss 23 games last season and limited him in some of those he played. He has been bothered by it the whole off-season and wasn’t moving around well in the summer league games he played in. All of this led to the aforementioned arthroscopic surgery in early August. While it probably clears the way for him to be ready for the start of training camp, there’s just a lot of room for concern given how long the injury has lingered. Given this injury and the emergence of Ryan Gomes, the acquisition of Theo Ratliff and Brian Grant, the drafting of touted big men and the presence of others ahead of him on the depth chart, I’d stay far away from Jefferson this season.

Josh Boone (shoulder surgery) – Boone had major shoulder surgery in mid-July that is expected to keep him out 4-6 months. This likely means he’s in line for a December or January return, and even then it will take him time to get into the flow and work his way into the rotation, so you’d be best served leaving him on the wire until close to his return.

Minor Injuries and Surgeries

Kobe Bryant (minor arthroscopic knee surgery)– Kobe was expected to be sidelined 8-12 weeks from the time of the surgery (July 15th). He has since said that his knee is pain free and that he’ll be more than ready come training camp time (October). A known work out fiend, expect Kobe to be injury-free and 100 percent come the regular season with no lasting effects (less minutes, etc.) to be seen.

Paul Pierce (minor arthroscopic elbow surgery) – Pierce had minor arthroscopic elbow surgery in early August, but is expected to be ready come training camp time. Injuries have never been a problem for Pierce, as he’s played at least 79 games and averaged at least 36 minutes per game in every season since 2000-01. Don’t expect this injury to make an impact on his season, but do watch it once the season starts as an otherwise minor injury to the same elbow could cause him to miss more time than it usually would.

Grant Hill (sports hernia) – Orlando Coach Brian Hill expects Grant to be completely healthy come training camp (early October). This is Grant Hill – driver of the injury bus – that we’re talking about, so there’s no question he’ll miss time, but if the positive reports are worth anything, and last year is any indication of what’s to come, Hill could play 75 percent of the season or more, which is gold by his standards. I’d put my money on another 60-70 game season, which is enough to make a large impact on your team; and while many will shy away simply because of the injury history, there are plenty of worse gambles if you’re feeling lucky come draft day.

Kendrick Perkins (shoulder surgery) – Perkins had shoulder surgery in the off-season to repair damage done while practicing in May. This is the same shoulder that caused him to miss 13 games last season. Having said that, the surgery was successful, all reports are positive, and the fact that he injured the same shoulder twice is likely more coincidence than anything else. I wouldn’t allow this to alter how I value Perkins come draft day.

Wally Szczerbiak (left knee) – Szczerbiak is expected to be fine following knee problems that led to surgery back in April. His value should remain the same.

Emeka Okafor (ankle) – After missing a big chunk of last season due to this injury, Okafor has practiced with the Summer League team, and while he’s been sitting out the games, this is likely just him taking it easy until training camp. Expect a full season from Emeka.

Luke Jackson (back surgery) – Jackson underwent his second surgery in as many years this off-season, again for his back. Not that you’d be drafting him anyways, but if you were planning on it – well, stop planning on it.

Other Minor Injuries/Surgeries that you shouldn’t worry about:

Chris Mihm (arthroscopic surgery on right ankle)
Brian Cook (right thumb surgery)
Francisco Garcia (bone spur)
Jarvis Hayes (injured knee)

Find out how the injuries and recoveries impact: Player Rankings | Expert Mock Draft

The views expressed by represent only the views of the writers; they do not represent the views of the NBA or any NBA team.