Yesterday morning, I wrote about how important Kenyon Martin's knee is to the Nuggets championship hopes. Then, a few hours later, the Denver Post reported what's been characterized as good news in most quarters: Martin won't need surgery, but he'll be sitting out for a while -- possibly until the playoffs.
Somehow, though, I don't feel like cheering -- and not only because the Nuggets' playoff seeding position may slide from two to three to possibly even four without K-Mart's typical double-double, not to mention inspirational defense of the sort that even gets Kobe Bryant's attention. (Kobe recently said of Orlando's tenacious Matt Barnes, "Him bumping me and Kenyon Martin bumping me are two different things.")
Worse, there's the strong possibility that the prediction of Martin's return is overly optimistic.
Look at the Nuggets' track record this season. When players like Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony and Ty Lawson have gotten hurt, the team has repeatedly suggested that they would return sooner than they actually did. Indeed, multiple games have passed with one or the other in street clothes after the date of their anticipated returns.
This could be sheer coincidence. After all, hypothesizing how an individual will react to an injury remains as much art as science. But the pattern shows that the Nuggets' percentage of correct guesses rivals Shaq's success (or lack thereof) on the free-throw line.
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Moreover, K-Mart had had a whole range of serious medical problems over the course of his career, including a broken leg while a Cincinnati Bearcat and two separate microfracture procedures.
True, this is a different problem -- but it's one capable of ripple effects that could slow Martin's recovery or hamper his effectiveness once he's back in blue.
Best case scenario: The Nuggets don't lose too much ground as the regular season winds down, and Martin is at full strength by the time the playoffs get underway. But there are a lot of other possibilities, the majority of them at least as reasonable as an ultra-positive outcome, if not more so.
Which certainly makes it difficult to look at the latest diagnosis as unadulterated good news.