HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — The Dallas Mavericks signed journeyman big man Eddy Curry out of desperation at the center position with Chris Kaman injured. When he returned, Dallas cut Curry and signed out-of-work Troy Murphy because power forward took top billing on the depth chart with Dirk Nowitzki rehabbing from surgery.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, down four starters and six rotation players to injury, signed Josh Howard off the street Thursday. The Toronto Raptors are reportedly looking into unemployed 3-point shooter Mickael Pietrus to plug into their injury-depleted roster.
Entering just the third week of the 2012-13 season, injuries — many to some of the game’s biggest and brightest stars — are the overwhelming story line as overworked team medical staffs are on 24-hour notice.
Both conferences can field a veritable All-Star team, position-by-position, of players that have recently returned from injury, were injured prior to the season or are injured now.
The West: Steve Nash, Ricky Rubio, Eric Gordon, Shawn Marion, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Love, Nowitzki, Andrew Bogut.
The East: Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, John Wall, Kyle Lowry, Dwyane Wade, Danny Granger, Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrew Bynum, Nene.
Yet that’s hardly all of the NBA’s wounded. Here’s more of those who have been, still are or just got injured: Gerald Wallace, Gerald Henderson, Mario Chalmers, Devin Harris, A.J. Price, Nikola Pekovic, Kirk Hinrich, Grant Hill, J.J. Barea, Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger, Anthony Davis, Steve Blake, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Channing Frye, Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert, Alan Anderson, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Avery Bradley.
When Minnesota came to Dallas earlier this week with five players out (and Pekovic’s sprained ankle in the third quarter would make it six), coach Rick Adelman engaged in something of a “Who’s on First” rapid-fire Q & A with beat writer Jerry Zgoda.
Jerry: Who’s your backup 3 and your backup 2?
Rick: We don’t have a backup 3. I’m going to start Malcolm (Lee) tonight at the 2 and bring Alexey (Shved) off the bench at both spots. And then at the 3, I don’t know, we’re going to slide somebody there.
Jerry: Have to play AK (Andrei Kirilenko) 48 minutes?
Rick: I don’t want to do to that. We don’t need to wear him out, too.
Jerry: Can you get five or six (minutes) out of (assistant coach Terry) Porter?
Rick: I don’t think so.
A year ago, the worry around the league was how an abbreviated training camp following the hasty resolution to the lockout and then a compacted, 66-game schedule would affect player health. With a full, month-long camp this time around and a complete slate of eight preseason games, this spate of injuries is as unexpected as unfortunate.
Entering this weekend’s games, only the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder among the league’s 30 teams boast clean injury reports, and 22 list more than one injured player.
“The league’s not going to stop and wait for you,” Adelman said the other night about his team’s rash of injuries. “A lot teams are having the same issues with major injuries. As a coaching staff you can’t coach the people that aren’t there. You only can coach the people that are there.”
And so it goes in a very strange first month in the NBA.