Surgeon Speculates Carmelo Has Torn Meniscus Or Arthritic Knee
By Frank Isola / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
LOS ANGELES — Carmelo Anthony’s status for Sunday’s matinee against the Clippers remains questionable amid growing concern over the health of his injured right knee.
If Anthony is unable to play, he will have missed four of the Knicks’ last six games and his first since having a procedure to drain fluid from the back of the knee. The Knicks enter the day having lost three straight games, including Thursday’s loss in Portland with both Anthony and Tyson Chandler sidelined. Chandler, suffering from a bruised left knee, is also listed as questionable.
Anthony attended Saturday’s practice at UCLA but was not made available to the media. Dr. Lisa Callahan, who serves as the director of player care for the Knicks, joined the team here to monitor Anthony’s treatment and perhaps make a determination on whether he plays.
Callahan carries considerable weight within the Knicks’ front office as it relates to making final decisions on player transactions. For example, she signed off on the Knicks’ five-year, $100 million contract with Amar’e Stoudemire despite his history of knee problems. Last week, Stoudemire had right knee surgery and is not expected to play again this season. Stoudemire missed the first two months of the season after having left knee surgery.
The Knicks rarely, if ever, make Callahan available to the media, which occasionally creates confusion, especially when head coach Mike Woodson, who does not have a medical background, is placed in the awkward position of having to answer questions about the health and care of his players. Eight years ago, former Knicks president Isiah Thomas gave Callahan permission to provide beat reporters with information regarding Allan Houston’s degenerative knee condition, which eventually forced the former Knick into early retirement.
For weeks, the Knicks were calling Rasheed Wallace’s injury a sore left foot. Only after the Daily News reported that it was a stress fracture did the Knicks begin listing Wallace’s injury as a stress reaction. Two weeks ago, Wallace had surgery to repair his fractured foot.
Even Stoudemire’s left knee injury in the preseason was described as soreness until the day the veteran power forward had surgery in late October. Add to that the fiasco created by Jeremy Lin’s season-ending knee injury last year, and there is reason to be skeptical over the way the Knicks have handled Anthony’s injury.
After abruptly walking off the court in the second quarter of a game in Cleveland two weeks ago, Anthony revealed that he had been experiencing knee soreness for weeks. He subsequently missed three games, only to return for games against Golden State and Denver and struggle in both. Early in the third quarter of his rough homecoming against the Nuggets, Anthony walked off the court and later announced that he was ready to have the knee drained.
If the course of treatment was Anthony’s call was it also his call to have it done in New York? From the beginning, it never seemed to make much sense for Anthony to fly from Denver to New York, only to rejoin the team in Los Angeles. He just as easily could have done it in Portland, where the Knicks were playing, or Los Angeles, where they have been since Friday.
“That wasn’t my call,” Woodson said. “That was the medical staff. I’m sure they wanted to look at him. Lisa was back in New York at the time when he came back.”
It is unlikely that Callahan performed the procedure since she is not an orthopedic surgeon. The Knicks’ orthopedic surgeon is Dr. Answorth Allen. Neither Callahan’s name nor Allen’s name was attributed to the statement released by the Knicks on Thursday that said Anthony had “had “a soft tissue fluid collection of his posterior right knee aspirated.” When asked how much fluid was drained, Woodson said: “I don’t know. I have no idea.”
A leading orthopedic surgeon who did not want to be identified says that fluid in the back of the knee is commonly referred to as a baker’s cyst, and that it is rarely a condition you find in a patient “with a 100% normal knee.
“It means there is something going on with the knee,” the doctor added. “The question is, where did the fluid come from? What is the source of the fluid? Something inside the knee produces that fluid, so what is going to stop the fluid from coming back.”
The orthopedic surgeon, who has not examined Anthony, speculated that the Knicks’ All-Star forward either has a partially torn meniscus or an arthritic knee. Anthony said last week that he does not have a meniscus injury, an injury that ended Lin’s season in late March.
Anthony, 28, who has been in the NBA since 2003, has played in 646 regular-season games. He’s also coming off a summer in which he trained with the national team in early July for the Olympics, which didn’t end until mid-August. The wear and tear is beginning to show.
“We’ve had a long journey,” says Chandler, who also played in the Olympics. “It’s a lot of basketball. I talked to him in practice and I was like, ‘now is a good time . . . a blessing in disguise.’ It’s a good time to get your body right for the grind we’re going to go through in the last part of the season.”