Jerryd Bayless Update: Philadelphia 76ers PG Underwhelming

Point Guard Jerryd Bayless cannot help the Philadelphia 76ers from the bench. But due to his wrist injury, that is where he will be for the foreseeable future.

Philadelphia 76ers Jerryd Bayless was a free agent signing in the 2016 off-season. As a matter of fact, he was the first free agent signed by the Philadelphia 76ers. He was a hybrid… a guard who could run the offense at point, or play off-the-ball. In either case, he was assessed as a player who could defend and shoot from three point range.

With Ben Simmons on his way, the fit seemed good.

Bayless was the first of three signings in free agency. Gerald Henderson and Sergio Rodriguez were the other two backcourt veterans brought onboard.

I’ve had plenty to say about both Henderson and Rodriguez so far. Henderson has delivered on all fronts: defensive standout who can score. Mr. Passion intermingled with Mr. Dependability.

Sergio Rodriguez has delivered in other ways.  His tenure with the 76ers is akin to John the Baptist paving the way for Jesus’ arrival.  He’s prepping the team for circus style assists.

But Jerryd Bayless has not added passion to this team.  He has not added circus style assists.  He’s added one more headache for head coach Brett Brown. You see, as the season arrived, so did new of a torn ligament in his left wrist.

After sitting the first 11 games of the season, he did manage to take the floor against the Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies, before reinjuring the wrist in a game against the Chicago Bulls.  He has since missed an additional four games.

Nov 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jerryd Bayless (0) attempts to pass the ball against Chicago Bulls guard Rajon Rondo (9) during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

What’s Wrong With Wrist?

Soft tissue injuries, such as those of tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, are problematic. These tissues heal slowly. The problem is that sometimes soft tissue responds more favorably with surgery, and sometimes it responds more favorably without surgery.

And it’s virtually impossible to predict which is which.

The surgery is season ending.  Non surgery is merely when pain subsides.  So far the pain hasn’t subsided, but Bayless has not opted to end the season via the operating room. Instead, Bayless has opted for platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy.

But there is always more to the story. Tendons and ligaments are made up of fibers of collagen-which is the substance which gives your skin elasticity. When these fibers are stretched or torn we may refer to the injury as a “pull”, “tear”, “sprain” (ligament) or “strain” (tendon). These structures are vascular which means there are blood vessels in them. Thus, when they are injured they bleed. That bleeding eventually leads to bruising around the area of injury.

Blood flow to the area increases to aid in healing, both to bring fresh supply of new materials to rebuild healthy tissue, as well as to remove damaged tissue. The blood carries platelets and growth factors that allow for healing of the tissue by creating new collagen fibers. These new fibers need to be constructed in an organized, layered fashion to heal correctly and allow the ligament or tendon to regain its proper strength and flexibility.

Sep 26, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jerryd Bayless (0) during media day at the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Why Isn’t This Healing?

Sometimes, however, the healing process does not work correctly and instead of forming healthy collagen fibers and scar tissue that develops in its place.

Scar tissue is unorganized collagen, whether too thick, too thin, or improperly oriented. Low blood flow to the area can increase the risk of scar tissue. Scar tissue hampers proper blood flow as new capillaries and other small blood vessels cannot form through scar tissue to provide blood flow to the injured area. The new development of small blood vessels is called “angiogenesis” or “neovascularization”.

When scarred or disorganized tissue inhibits this process the blood flow to the area becomes “blocked”. This means that the tissue will never really have the opportunity to heal correctly. That is why sometimes ligament and tendon injuries heal and other times they do not.  That appears to be where Jerryd Bayless is at the moment.

Prolonged soreness in the wrist suggests that some scar tissue is forming.  His willingness to attempt PRP suggests that the pain is both significant and sustained.  Surgery is one option: where the surgeon removes scar tissue, fuses ends of the healthy tissue, and allows the body to rebuild and heal by immobilizing the joint.

For now, the option for surgery appears to be at the same priority as “break in case of emergency” fire alarms.

But what is PRP?  And why here, and why now?

Nov 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jerryd Bayless (0) in action against the Miami Heat at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 101-94. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

PRP

Platelet Rich Plasma is a new therapy to the treatment of soft tissue industry.

In short, the blood of each person consists of plasma (the fluid), red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. For many years, platelets were believed to be “the clotting factor” of blood.  But recent studies have shown platelets actually serve in a myriad of ways. One benefit of platelets is the concentration of growth factors in each cell.

Platelet Rich Plasma is a therapy where that platelet concentrated blood is delivered directly to the injury site. In PRP therapy, the patient’s own blood is taken with a simple blood draw.

Using a special centrifuge machine this blood is spun down to separate out and concentrate the platelets and growth factors that are essential for tissue healing.  This small amount of fluid with concentrated platelets and growth factors is called platelet rich plasma (PRP).

Nov 23, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jerryd Bayless (0) drives past Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) during the first overtime quarter of the game at the Wells Fargo Center. The Grizzlies won 104-99 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

No Additives

Nothing else is added to the patient’s own blood products so there is no risk of allergy, reaction or rejection.  PRP therapy is a purely natural process using the body’s own healing factors.  The trick is getting them to the right place. Once there, the concentrated platelets deliver copious amounts of growth factor, bathing the site in the healing components.

The physician then uses ultrasounds to identify the injured area. Ultrasound resolution has improved to allow identifying collagen fibers as well as scar tissue and blood flow to the area.

A physician is then able to use special needles to inject PRP directly to the injured area, even between tightly packed collagen fibers.  Once these platelets and growth factors are in the area of injury they then become activated.  In turn, other healing proteins and factors to the area and healing and regeneration of the tissue can now begin.

Since Bayless has received his therapy, there is a belief that he should be ready to play soon.  But that may not be the case.  You see, some injuries to soft tissues take 8-12 weeks to heal.  PRP merely promotes the healing, perhaps shaving off some time.  But Bayless has already had the injury for the eight weeks (reported at the end of September 2016), so this is likely beyond the scope of normal now.

Nov 23, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jerryd Bayless (0) goes up for a shot during the second overtime quarter of the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Wells Fargo Center. The Memphis Grizzlies won 104-99 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Get ‘Er Done

One of the greatest benefits to the signing of Jerryd Bayless was the expectation that he could run the team as Simmons acclimated to the NBA and point guard roles, but switch to an off-ball guard role as Simmons assumed the one role.

As of right now, Ben Simmons will likely be point guard long before Bayless’ wrist heals.  And that’s the problem.

The Philadelphia 76ers dealt with this issue a year ago, when Carl Landry injured his wrist and did not return to the team until mid-season.  But this year was supposed to be different.  History repeats itself, again.

Which is why the matter has prompted Keith Pompey of www.philly.com to call on Jerryd Bayless to just shut down, have the surgery, and be done with it.  In all honesty, he makes a persuasive argument.

Whatever there is to salvage of this season, it will not end up at or near .500.  And so, if this team is developing this year, next season would be the target to have everyone healthy. Next season would be a good time to have Bayless ready at full strength.

The NBA is a competitive sport. Right now, Sergio Rodriguez is the starting point guard for the 76ers, but the team needs help in the role now. Since Bayless cannot deliver, he could try to achieve 100% health for next season.  Perhaps Colangelo can use next off-season to unleash the media blitz of the logjam at point guard and trade Bayless?

In any case, the team needs help now, and Bayless is underwhelming in its delivery. Perhaps that is why surgery is the last resort. Perhaps Jerryd Bayless understands his window with the team is now.

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