NBA Roundtable

Raja Bell Injured

In General NBA on October 21, 2009 at 5:37 pm

Hat Tip to Khandor

ESPN reports

Charlotte Bobcats starting shooting guard Raja Bell has a partially torn ligament in his left wrist and will soon decide whether to have surgery which would sideline him up to four months.The severity of Bell’s injury, announced after he sat out Charlotte’s 94-87 exhibition win over Milwaukee on Tuesday, is a major blow for the Bobcats, who could be without their best defensive player and team leader.

Bell was injured when his wrist bent awkwardly as he tried to grab a loose ball in Sunday’s game against Utah.

“The way I understand it, surgery would be 6-8 [weeks] in a cast with pins and then 6-8 [weeks] worth of rehab,” Bell said.

There’s a chance Bell could play through the injury by going through a rigorous treatment process, but Bell said he won’t decide until he gets a second opinion.

“It’s pretty disappointing to me,” Bell said. “I was looking forward to coming in and having a good season and being as healthy as I could be to start the season. In that regard, it’s a big setback for me personally.”

Rick Bonnell reports

Bell has a torn ligament in his left wrist, and is seeking a second opinion from a Chicago hand specialist. Bell’s choices are to have surgery — a choice that could cost him the next four months — or to attempt recovery through rest and non-surgical treatment.

Bell expects to make a decision in roughly the next week, and there are numerous factors, including his contract expiring at the end of the season. He doesn’t want to sit out his contract year, but he also doesn’t want to enter free-agency as damaged goods.

Thoughts

Best Defensive Player?

I highlighted there in ESPN’s report … which claims Raja Bell is the Bobcats best defender?

I have Bell down as the Bobcats sixth best defender behind Tyson Chandler, Boris Diaw, Gerald Wallace, DeSagana Diop and Raymond Felton.

Raja Bell’s past performances and reputation as a defensive stopper are muddying the waters here. He’s no longer the defender he was three or four years ago. Still a good defender, but no longer a great one.

Playoff Chances

If Raja Bell is out for four months that means he’ll be returning sometime after the All-Star break. By then the Bobcats will have played 50+ games with Bell returning for the final third of the season.

Considering how small the Bobcats margin for error is for making the playoffs, this could be a devastating injury for their season.

For now I’m not ready to say how hurtful this injury will prove to be. Two key variables are still undetermined:

  • Flip Murray’s level of performance — will he play like he did last season or like he did during the rest of his career?
  • How well will Gerald Henderson play?

Depending on how well or how badly those two variables play out … will play a large role in defining how the Bobcats playoff chances are effected. If they can’t handle the responsibility that could create a 3-5 win difference, and that could be enough to cost the Bobcats a playoff spot this season.

Open Minutes

With Raja Bell out for the next four months suddenly there are 30+ minutes available at the shooting guard position. Who’ll get the minutes?

Last night, Larry Brown started DJ Augustin and Raymond Felton alongside one another in the backcourt. We saw that combination a lot last season and will likely see even more of it now.

The next leading candidate is Flip Murray. He’ll be given the chance to claim a lot of those vacant minutes at the two spot … and if he plays like he did last season, then he’ll claim them easily. However, if Flip plays like he did in all of his other seasons then he could fail to make those minutes his own.

The outsider in all of this is Gerald Henderson. I think he’ll be in the Bobcats rotation but it could only be a 5-10 minute role. How well Flip Murray plays will have a big bearing on how much of an opportunity Henderson gets.

Other rotation thoughts

I’m not sure if Brown will try Derrick Brown at the two guard slot or not. I think he’d do fine there, but Brown may elect to keep him in the forward positions. Brown looks like he’ll be the fourth forward behind Wallace, Diaw and Radmanovic. His main competition will be Stephen Graham.

As such, the Bobcats will likely go with a guards, forwards, center rotation rather than a guards, wings, big men rotation. The inter-changeability of their positions is more suited to the former.

My preferred option

I’d like to see Gerald Henderson get the nod for Bell’s starting position. Even if it’s just for a 15 minute a night role rather than usual starting minutes.

I think his defensive ability and athleticism will allow the Bobcats their best chance at maintaining their possibility of being a top five defensive club, and hopefully a dangerous team in transition (which they’ll need to be to boost their offense).

Henderson’s questionable jump shot would strain their already poor offense though. The only option with a dependable jump shot appears to be DJ Augustin but I think playing him will limit the value of Raymond Felton’s growing performances and hurt the Bobcats defensively.

No clear best option … but I’d go with Gerald Henderson. I also think the starting role would help him the most with his development. Give him an understanding of what he needs to do in order to be successful in this league.

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  1. Raja Bell is going to try and play through the injury

    Raja Bell wants to tough it out without being a liability. The Charlotte Bobcats likely need their starting shooting guard if they want a realistic shot at the playoffs.

    Tuesday was a day of optimism for both sides, with Bell hopeful he’ll be able to play this season with a torn ligament in his left wrist and put off surgery that would sideline him up to four months.

    “I’m going to [sit out] for another week to see if it continues to progress as it has, then I’ll probably wind up playing,” Bell said after participating in practice with his non-shooting hand heavily taped. “If it doesn’t, then we’ll go back to the drawing board.”

    ESPN’s article continues

    Bell was injured when his wrist bent awkwardly as he tried to grab a loose ball in an exhibition game on Oct. 18. He sat out the final two preseason games after tests revealed the torn ligament. Bell got a second opinion from a Chicago hand specialist who told him he can play if he can withstand the pain.

    “I’m pretty encouraged,” Bell said. “It’s feeling a lot better than it did. I still have some hurdles to clear with it, but I feel good.”

  2. New Update — Bell to play

    Charlotte Bobcats shooting guard Raja Bell planned to start against New Jersey on Monday as he tries to play with a partially torn ligament in his left wrist.

    Bell went through shootaround and coach Larry Brown said he would make his season debut against the Nets even though he hasn’t gone through a full contact practice. Bell last week decided to put off surgery that would sideline him up to four months and see if he could get through the season.

    “It’ll be an adventure, but I feel pretty confident about it,” Bell said. “The passing, the dribbling, the rebounding and stuff is OK. I’ll try to protect it a little bit as best as I can until I get some practices. But when you feel like you can get out there and help, in any capacity, it’s kind of time to go.”

    Bell’s return will be a boost for the Bobcats (1-2), who are the NBA’s lowest-scoring team and have had depth problems at shooting guard with backup Ronald “Flip” Murray also out with a stress reaction in his left shin. Brown said Murray could make his debut Friday against Atlanta.

  3. If Raja Bell can sustain a fairly high level of performance while playing with this wrist injury this season, the Bobcats should be able to get into “the playoff mix” battling for a low end seed in the EC.

    They need his veteran savvy, his perimeter shooting, and his defense at the #2/OG position … even though he is no longer as good as he once was in this role for the Suns.

    An early look at the EC, thus far:

    [1-2?] Boston and Orlando

    [3] Cleveland?

    [4-6?] Atlanta, Miami and Washington

    [7-12?] Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Toronto, Charlotte, New York

    [13-15?] Indiana, Milwaukee and New Jersey.

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