Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Isaiah Thomas faces an uncertain future meddled with injury concerns after he was traded from the Boston Celtics.
His hip, and the question of whether he needs surgery, has been a constant point of conversation this offseason. Perhaps some of the earlier delays for why Thomas has decided against surgery thus far is because the team may not have even known about the injury.
In fact, he was originally diagnosed with a knee issue. Some believe that the tear occurred in December 2016 when he missed time with a groin strain. NBA insider Tom Haberstroh helped contextualize the impending decision for Thomas (via ESPN):
“If Thomas were to choose to go under the knife, the timetable may not be ideal for the Cavs. The average recovery time after a labral repair surgery is just more than six months. Such a time frame would put Thomas back on the court in mid-March if he received surgery tomorrow. But recoveries from surgery have lasted as long as 10 months, as was the case with Wilson Chandler in 2015 (his second labral tear repair in a four-year span). Each day that Thomas delays could make the situation worse.”
The story also notes that “some people can’t even feel it when they rip” when they suffer hip labrum tears. Thomas had also suggested four months ago that his hip bones are not normal, adding he did not understand the “doctor talk” of the diagnosis.
While some doctors had suggested he could be out three to four months, the results vary.
Dr. Marc Philippon has operated on nine of the 13 documented surgeries on NBA players for torn labrums. Players with this history include Johnny Flynn and Martell Webster.
Flynn had surgery in 2010 and played his final NBA game in 2012. Webster had surgery in 2015 and remains a free agent 21 months later.
Other basketball players who have missed time due to this type of surgery include Gary Neal (8 months) as well as Gerald Henderson (7.5 months) and Kevon Looney (6 months) — though some recoveries including Jordan Hill (3 months) were shorter. ESPN helps explain why there is a discrepancy.
“According to a recent study by the Steadman Clinic in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, athletes who had longer post-surgery careers tended to have a shorter duration of symptoms prior to going under the knife. In other words: Don’t delay if you can help it.”
One physician believes hip injuries are worse for guards, like Thomas, because of the agility and defensive crouching required for the position.
Haberstroh notes that “players who could be in line for a big payday” may not opt for surgery because it could hurt their contract status. Thomas will become a free agent during the 2018 offseason.
Recent rumors suggest he is seeking new representation as he approaches free agency. Derrick Rose will likely start at point guard for the Cavaliers as Thomas misses time.
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