On Tuesday night, for the first time in months, real basketball makes its glorious return to our lives with the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat tipping off. The big news, as one would expect, is the healthy renaissance of point guard Derrick Rose, but some players around the league aren't faring so well entering the 2013-14 season.
Starting with Tuesday's early game between Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers, a few guys will be sitting out the beginning of the season, including forwards Tobias Harris and Danny Granger. Come Wednesday's full slate of action, we should see a number of other players sidelined.
Here's a review of some nagging injuries, the players being affected and how things look going forward.
The Charlotte Bobcats' big-money addition over the summer may not be ready for opening night, as an ongoing ankle injury limits Al Jefferson. Since spraining his right ankle on Oct. 11 during an exhibition game against Miami, Jefferson's missed six preseason games and only recently started practicing again over the weekend.
"I think I can play. I’m not going to be 100 percent pain-free. But I can tolerate a little pain," he said Tuesday to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
As Rufus on Fire notes, the bigger question appears to be whether "the team is willing to play him when he's not 100 percent." Considering the Bobcats owe Jefferson a hefty $41 million over the next three years, keeping him healthy will likely be a top priority.
Brooklyn Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko will travel with his teammates to Cleveland for the season opener against the Cavaliers, but it appears he won't be playing. On Tuesday, AK-47 said he's aiming to play Friday against the Miami Heat, which appears to rule him out for Wednesday's game against the Cavs.
According to Nets Daily, Kirilenko was "going hard" in 5-on-5 practices Tuesday afternoon, which would seem to be a positive sign for his status. Assuming no setbacks, he'll likely be active by the end of the week.
It's been months since the Washington Wizards selected Otto Porter with the third pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, but the Georgetown product still hasn't really suited up for his new team. Outside of a brief, frustrating trial in the Las Vegas Summer League back in July, Porter's tenure with the Wizards has consisted of an ongoing hip injury and vague assertions regarding his status.
On Tuesday, the Wizards provided their latest non-comment on Porter's health after the rookie underwent an MRI on his right hip flexor, and once again, the team didn't say much. When asked how soon Porter would play again, coach Randy Wittman said, "Well I'd like to know that, too. If you guys have any inside information on that, let me know."
With the veteran duo of Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza ready to eat minutes at small forward, the Wizards can survive just fine without Porter in the short-term, but the No. 3 pick is expected to become a core contributor fairly soon. Let's hope the setbacks take a backseat to some actual game action soon.
It appears Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes will come off the bench this season, but before that happens, he'll be forced to miss the first two games of the season with left foot inflammation. According to reports, Barnes delayed giving the team permission to divulge his health information, which explains the deferred explanation for his issues.
Golden State of Mind says Barnes' absence likely means more Draymond Green and Marreese Speights in the short-term. Once he's good to go again, expect the former first-round pick to get starter's minutes playing a number of different positions on the floor.
The Nuggets seem ready to make some major changes this season under new coach Brian Shaw, but point guard Ty Lawson should be a constant for the roster over the next few years. With that said, he remains a game-time decision for the team's season opener against the Sacramento Kings.
With a groin strain still limiting Lawson in practice, the Nuggets don't want to prematurely push their star player into game action so early in the season. Without Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, both currently on the team's inactive list, getting a healthy Lawson into the lineup ASAP will be important.
Finally some good news, as Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap says he's going to play in the team's season opener Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks. The former Jazz big man will make his debut in a Hawks uniform despite battling a sore Achilles over the past couple weeks. "It’s better. For what it is, it’s better," Millsap said to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.
Like Millsap, it appears Amar'e Stoudemire will be good to go for his team's first game of the season on Wednesday night. While the veteran continues to deal with knee issues that have sapped his ability to play over the past two years, head coach Mike Woodson said Tuesday that Amar'e would be dressed and ready to play against the Milwaukee Bucks as the teams tip off at Madison Square Garden.