March 3, 2009
Uncertain, uneasy road ahead for Dunleavy
Posted by Jeff Rabjohns
SACRAMENTO -- Catching you up on Monday's conversation with Mike Dunleavy after rushing to catch a late flight to Sactown, where, outside my hotel window is a 24-hour truck stop. Since it's 3 a.m. Indy time, here's hoping for 24-hour breakfast ...
Mike Dunleavy sounds like a guy who knows he's about to have surgery, serious surgery, the kind that requires a long, determined rehabilitation.
The kind that makes a player wonder what he'll be like when he returns.
The way the Pacers' shooting guard talked Monday, surgery appears to be a conclusion waiting for an announcement.
Dunleavy talked about a long rehabilitation that could last into next season, and said he's been told by doctors that the issue with his right knee doesn't mirror something another NBA player has faced.
Dunleavy revealed Sunday he has a "giant bone spur" on his right patella tendon. With many sports surgeries, there is a template. Doctors can point to other player who has gone through something nearly identical.
"That's a little bit of the issue that this is unchartered waters so to speak, as far as the condition I have," he said. "There have been some things similar to it that you can compare to, but nothing like what I have.
"That's a little bit of the concern with the process, but something I'll have to go through."
Dunleavy said he's visited with a number of doctors in the past few weeks, in part to determine if the surgery would be performed in Indy or elsewhere.
He's played just 18 games this year after missing only 11 his first six years in the NBA.
But when he returns to the court is far from being determined.
"A lot of it is dependent on how the surgery goes," Dunleavy said. "We won't know until you get in there and all that. We'll do that and go from there. It'll be a lengthy recovery, so I'm prepared for that."
Asked if that meant he could miss the beginning of next year, Dunleavy said, "Potentially, but again, to put a time frame on it right now is tough, especially going into it."
Dunleavy was expected to team with Danny Granger to form the Pacers' core for the foreseeable future since both averaged 19 points per game last season. But Dunleavy never got going.
He said he didn't want to have surgery immediately because he wanted to see if other treatments would work.
"It was a risk you have to take because at the end of the day, you want to avoid surgery at all costs," he said. "So you've got to go through the process in the first place. We did, and we wore out our options."
For the Pacers, the question is whether Dunleavy, 28, will return to form and if so, when?
For the player himself, the question is what will happen to the basketball career of the son of a coach, a guy who grew up loving the game and devoting himself to it.
"Anytime you get injured or are injured for the first time, things creep into your head," he said. "It's obviously been a long, rough year, but I feel like I can start over now.
"I have a great medical staff and great training staff and those things going for me, so you try to block the other stuff out."