Report: Suns’ Bledsoe needs knee surgery
Update: The Suns confirmed Friday morning that team doctor Thomas Carter performed arthroscopic surgery on meniscus cartilage of Bledsoe’s right knee and described the procedure as successful.
The seeming epidemic of NBA point guard injuries reportedly has knocked on the door of one team in the midst of an impromptu house party. And Eric Bledsoe of the Suns is the one answering the door.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the knee injury Bledsoe sustained last week during the Suns’ victory over the Clippers in Los Angeles is worse than anticipated. Stein reported that Bledsoe will require surgery to repair cartilage damage and be out indefinitely. The status of an expected torn meniscus and the length of time he will be sidelined will be determined by the surgeon.
With most basketball-related meniscus issues, the player can have the meniscus trimmed and return relatively quickly, but that procedure can shorten a career. On the flip side, repairing the meniscus typically helps secure career longevity but requires a longer recovery period.
Although the bad timing and rotten karma can’t match what the optimistic Bulls have gone through with Derrick Rose, the gut-punch of losing Bledsoe may knock the Suns off of many trajectories. Having Bledsoe back next to Goran Dragic after missing six games with a shin contusion, Phoenix has surged up the Western Conference standings of late and briefly moved into the fifth seed.
This two-pronged, point-guard attack had the organization and its fans waving bye-bye to a high lottery pick in the expected 2014 NBA Draft bonanza and saying hello to solid playoff contention under first-year coach Jeff Hornacek.
Bledsoe, who is averaging 18 points, six assists and four rebounds, and Dragic were catalysts for a restoration effort that had local basketball followers dismissing all tanking theories. Instead, the Suns were encouraging fans to imagine the team actually challenging for a seed high enough to land home-court advantage in the first round.
But having played without Bledsoe for the last 10 games (six with a shin ailment, four with the knee injury), the Suns (21-13 overall) have gone just 5-5.
The five victories were achieved against the Magic, Bobcats, Trail Blazers, Bucks and Timberwolves. There’s just one triumph against a team with a winning record (the Blazers) in that collection.
The five Bledsoe-free losses were bestowed upon the Suns by the Kings (twice), Heat, Grizzlies and Bulls. That’s four losses to teams with losing records.
Beyond his drive-and-kick skills, first line of defense, passing-lane anticipation and capacity to upgrade the team’s swagger, the loss of Bledsoe brings questions about the Suns’ future. As a restricted free agent, potential limitations caused by the knee injury could make reconciling his contractual future difficult. Although it might drive down the cost of matching whatever offer Bledsoe and his agent can muster from another team, these questions may cause similar market-value consternation in the Suns.
So, with Chris Paul missing from Clipper action for a while, Russell Westbrook temporarily leaving the Thunder’s playoff-seed quest to Kevin Durant, Deron Williams staggering on a bad ankle in Brooklyn, Rajon Rondo still attempting to get back into uniform with the Celtics and Rose a goner in Chicago once again, the Suns now feel their own point guard pain.
Without Bledsoe for a large chunk of the season, will Hornacek be able to manipulate the roster with enough skill to land a playoff ticket? Or will the Suns just miss the playoffs — and, most likely, the upper tier of expected lottery prospects?
Will Bledsoe’s recovery be sufficient to inspire re-hiring confidence in the team’s highly regarded medical and training staff?
It’s hard to imagine a more franchise-freezing predicament.