If Bargnani has a torn ulnar collateral ligament, as has been reported by the New York Times, he could be looking at an absence that extends into March and beyond.
Lakers guard Steve Blake suffered a tear of the UCL and has been out since Dec. 10.
The length of Bargnani’s recovery depends on the grade of the tear, according to Roth.
Roth, who has not treated Bargnani directly, said if the power forward suffered a Grade 1 or 2 tear then he could be out 4-6 weeks following a period of rehabilitation.
If he has a Grade 3 tear, it would require surgery to repair and he could be out for several months.
Roth, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and the tending physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, notes that Bargnani may return sooner because the injury is to his left arm, which is not his shooting arm.
Also, as a basketball player, Bargnani doesn’t put a ton of stress on his ligament, as, say, a pitcher would.
“All of those are good prognosticators for an early return,” Roth said.
Roth notes that Bargnani may have trouble extending his arms to rebound or block shots upon his return. It all depends on the success of his rehab.
It will be interesting to see how the Knicks replace Bargnani’s scoring. He was the team’s second-leading scorer with 13.3 points per game. J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert and others could be leaned on to fill the void.
Bargnani’s injury may also force the team to go back to a three-guard lineup featuring Pablo Prigioni in the starting lineup.