By Jonathan Hartzell, NBA.com
The NBA offseason is a time for most players to relax and mentally prepare for the upcoming season. But for those recovering from injury, it’s all work as they try to get back into the game.
Here are 10 key players rehabbing this summer, with best guesses on when they are expected to return.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Injury: Ruptured Achilles tendon (April 13, 2013)
Progress: Bryant’s 2012-13 season came to a sudden end when he ruptured his Achilles tendon in the Lakers’ stretch-run toward the playoffs. The initial diagnosis for his injury was 6-9 months, but recent reports have suggested the star could be back by the start of the 2013-14 season. This would be the best of news for the Lakers, who will struggle to win without Bryant.
ETA: It’s not hard to imagine Bryant being ready by the start of the season. But it’s downright easy to imagine this injury staying with him all season.
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Injury: Torn ACL in left knee (April 28, 2012)
Progress: If you go by some of what you see on Twitter, then Derrick Rose was ready to return two months ago during the Chicago Bulls’ series against the Miami Heat, but he chose not to because he’s not “competitive enough.” Thankfully, the saga surrounding Rose ended when the Bulls were eliminated in five games and Rose was allowed to have the entire summer to continue his rehab. A video surfaced earlier in the week of Rose dunking on an eight-foot hoop. It seems likely the former-MVP will be ready by the start of training camp.
ETA: Reports signal Rose is comfortable on the court again and has regained his muscle memory, so expect him back for the entire 2013-14 season.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Injury: Lateral meniscus tear in right knee (April 24, 2013)
Progress: Westbrook underwent surgery on his right knee in late May after he tore his lateral meniscus during the first round playoff series against the Houston Rockets. The recovery time initially called for Westbrook to be back for the beginning of the 2013-14 season. Based on the amount of recent videos of Westbrook dancing, it would appear he will be ready.
ETA: It would take an unlikely setback for Westbrook not to be ready by training camp. But don’t be surprised if this injury inititally diminishes Westbrook’s level of play.
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
Injury: Torn ACL in right knee (January 25, 2013)
Progress: Rondo’s knee injury in late-January knocked him out for the rest of the 2012-13 season and proved to be the last time he would play with future Hall-of-Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and be coached by Doc Rivers. Rondo is reportedly right on schedule for his recovery, but the team he is preparing to return to is moving in a completely new direction. It will be interesting to see how Rondo handles his new leading role on the team and if he can get along with new head coach Brad Stevens.
ETA: All signs point to Rondo being ready for the start of the season.
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
Injury: Surgery to remove scar tissue in left knee (April 8, 2013)
Progress: Kevin Love missed the beginning of the 2012-13 season with a broken hand sustained by doing knuckle push-ups. After he returned from that injury he played 18 games before he broke the same hand again. Before he could return for a third time, he became bothered by left knee pain and chose to have season-ending surgery to remove scar tissue in his knee. The normal recovery time for this surgery is 4-6 weeks, so Love should be right on schedule to return for training camp.
ETA: Love will most likely be ready for the start of the 2013-14 season … unless he decided to do more knuckle push-ups.
Andrew Bynum, Cleveland Cavaliers
Injury: Knee complications beginning in 2010
Progress: Andrew Bynum underwent his first knee surgery on July 28, 2010 with the Los Angeles Lakers. Last year, knee troubles caused the center to miss the entire season after he was acquired by the Philadelphia 76ers in a summer blockbuster trade. The washout of a season was initially due to a setback Bynum suffered while bowling. Now a part of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Bynum says he will be ready by training camp. But it’s important to remember he said those same words last season, too.
ETA: Few will believe the big man is back until they see the big man back, but it seems likely he will be healthy for the start of the season.
Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets
Injury: Torn ACL in left knee (April 4, 2013)
Progress: Similar to Rondo, the team that Gallinari is set to return to is a lot different than the one he left. Gone are Andre Iguodala, head coach George Karl and general manager Masai Ujiri. But new head coach Brian Shaw should help to inspire the team and a healthy Gallinari would certainly help. The initial timetable for his return was the middle of next season, but recent reports suggest he may be back sooner than that after the surgery was simpler than expected.
ETA: The best-case scenario for his return seems to be December.
Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers
Injury: Blood clot developed in left lung following surgery (January 10, 2013)
Progress: Varejao was having his best NBA season when it was unexpectedly cut short after doctors discovered a blood clot developing in his left lung. This potentially fatal condition was quickly treated by surgery, but it caused Varejao to miss the remainder of the season. Varejao should be fully prepared to return by the start of training camp.
ETA: It would be a surprise if Varejao isn’t ready to step into the front line of the improving Cavs by the start of the season.
Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers
Injury: Patellar tendinosis in left knee since the 2012 offseason
Progress: Granger attempted to return midseason last year but was able to play in only five games before he had to undergo another surgery. His absence allowed All-Star Paul George to emerge as the go-to star for the Pacers, who reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals before falling to the Heat. Still, Granger’s offensive firepower would be a welcome addition off the bench.
ETA: While recent reports suggest that the former All-Star should be ready by training camp, lingering knee injuries are nearly impossible to predict.
Injury: Lingering knee injuries since 2007
Progress: Speaking of lingering knee injuries, here’s Greg Oden! The first overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft is reportedly ready for a comeback after being out of the league for the entire 2012-13 season. He’s receiving heavy interest from several NBA teams. There’s no way to predict what Oden has left in his knees, but if he can stay relatively healthy for the majority of next season then his extreme size and skill will be a huge benefit.
ETA: There have been limited reports on Oden’s recovery progress, but the amount of interest he’s received from teams must signal that the big man is on track to return for most of next season.