Sunday, July 28, 2002

Injuries make deals unpredictable

McDyess may help Knicks, but not if injured knee still ails him

The Associated Press

        While some New York Knicks fans, still fascinated with Marcus Camby and upset with the loss of a lottery pick, are skeptical about the team's draft-night trade with the Denver Nuggets for forward Antonio McDyess, the consensus throughout the NBA is that the Knicks did the right thing.

        But in praising the move made by Scott Layden, the Knicks' president and general manager, executives around the league always qualify their remarks with this phrase: “If McDyess is healthy...”

        Obviously, the Knicks are convinced he is healthy, and McDyess appears to be on track to bolster New York's offense with 20 points and 10 rebounds a night. He has been running five-on-five at the Westside Tennis Club in Houston for the past few weeks with players such as Sam Cassell, Nick Van Exel, Shawn Kemp, Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley, and he has reported no problems with his surgically repaired left knee.

        The Knicks will get their first glimpse at McDyess this week when he comes to New York to look for a home and to work out with the coaching staff and trainers.

        But as far along as McDyess seems to be in his recovery, there is no telling how well his knees will hold up until he has endured training camp and the first few weeks of the regular season. No one knows that better than John Gabriel, general manager of the Orlando Magic, and Pete Babcock, general manager for the Atlanta Hawks.

        Two years ago, Gabriel was the envy of the league, landing guard Tracy McGrady and forward Grant Hill in a summer that was supposed to put the Magic atop the Eastern Conference. McGrady has been sensational, but an ankle injury has limited Hill to 18 games.

        Babcock traded highly coveted center Dikembe Mutombo to the Philadelphia 76ers for a package of players highlighted by Theo Ratliff midway through the 2000-01 season. Ratliff, who was out with a broken right wrist at the time of the trade, has played only three games for the Hawks.

        Though Gabriel does not make it his business to root for the Knicks, he hopes they do not experience what he has.

        “I'd just say, "Good luck' to them,” Gabriel said. “It doesn't feel like there are many injuries nowadays that are insurmountable to come back from because of today's medicine, but it seems like there have been a flurry recently with Theo and Grant and McDyess. It makes you say, "What's up with this?' Everybody was lined up to sign Grant Hill two years ago, and everybody would have traded for Antonio without hesitation. It's nobody's fault. It's just that sometimes it comes out hands down.”

        No one envisioned that Hill and Ratliff would be sidelined for so long. Hill, who injured his ankle during the 2000 playoffs while playing for Detroit, was expected to return at the top of his game the following season. Then, after playing just four games that season, he was definitely expected to be in the lineup last season.

        This summer, Hill is working out in Orlando, going through basketball and aquatic drills, but he has yet to play five-on-five. After watching Hill work out twice a day in August, September and October, the Magic want him to take things slowly this time.

        “We're taking a more deliberate, slower approach,” said Gabriel, who expects Hill to be at full strength for training camp. “He may not play five-on-five until the season starts. Right now, he looks as good as I've ever seen him, but we realize that the proof is in an 82-game season.”

        Ratliff's case has been perhaps even more exasperating. Atlanta knew when it traded for him that he probably would miss the rest of the 2000-01 season. But during the summer of 2001, Ratliff injured his hip and played only three games last season.

        McDyess differs from Ratliff in that Ratliff had been injury-prone for the past few years. Ratliff missed 25 games in 1999-2000 and 32 the following year. McDyess, however, had never played fewer than 70 games before sitting out all but 10 games last season.

        “I think the odds are in the Knicks' favor,” Gabriel said. “And even if Antonio's not 100 percent, he's still pretty darn good.”


Sports Stories
Cintas, Stan Litz to meet in finals
Ex-Bearcat adjusts to new game
Five questions with Bud Collins
Quiver with fear
Austin defends IBF bantamweight title
Holmes beats Butterbean, then retires
Ruiz keeps title when Johnson's disqualified
Armstong adds to big lead in Tour de France
Colleges promote fitness centers as ways to draw new students
Evernham still seeking answers
Fultz eyes NASCAR's big show
- Injuries make deals unpredictable
Safina beats Nagyova for first WTA Tour title
Sorenstam, Park tied in Big Apple
The art and science of landing fish
VanLingens looking for seventh title
Coming up this week
Enquirer Page Two Power rankings

Reds 2, Mets 1
Reds box, runs
Reds star makes time for family of 9-11 victim
Cinergy farewell sells out quickly
Double dose of Kearns frustrates Mets
Reds Q&A
Cinergy countdown No.17 - Aug. 21, 1990
Down on the farm
Reds chatter
Charlotte 11, Louisville 6
John Fay's MLB power rankings
Williams' daughter will challenge document
NL roundup
AL roundup
Notes from Saturday's games
DAUGHERTY: Bengals have one believer anyhow
Pick a seat, any seat, at Georgetown
Warrick shoots for greatness
Bengals Q&A
Brooks a no-show at Saints training camp
Cards' Boston trying to put legal woes behind him
Colts sign first-round pick
Winton Woods chooses inaugural Hall class