"It's happening again!"
That was the initial reaction of many 76ers fans, as news broke that the team was trading All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of a package that would bring back much-heralded draft pick Nerlens Noel from the University of Kentucky.
Why the concerns? Well, Noel is currently recovering from an ACL tear that is expected to keep him out until December. After the previous year's drama with Andrew Bynum, how could the Sixers deal their potential franchise player for another injured big man?
For one, the two situations couldn't be any more different. "What Noel has is a straight-forward ACL tear," says Justin Shaginaw, MPT, ATC, coordinator of sports medicine at Aria 3B Orthopaedic Institute. They take 9-12 months to heal, and then he should be back on the court. The rest will depend on his talent and maturity."
Noel, who will likely make his NBA debut at the tender age of 19 (he turns 20 on April 10) also has the benefit of no significant injury history before the ACL tear. Bynum's injury problems were often attributed to the cumulative effect of repeated knee injuries throughout his career.
Noel's ACL surgery was performed by the famed Dr. James Andrews, and he is rehabbing with Kevin Wilk, P.T., D.P.T., whom Shaginaw calls "one of the best physical therapists in the country."
Noel stands almost 7 feet tall, but weighed only 216 lbs. before the NBA Draft. Shaginaw says his size shouldn't have any impact on the recovery from injury. "If anything, his lower weight will lead to less stress on the knee," he explains.
In summary, the success of this trade will be determined on the basketball court—not in the trainer's room.