The obvious good news is that it’s not an ACL tear. The obvious bad news is that it requires surgery.
How serious is a meniscus tear? A recent example of this injury is Blake Griffin, who tore his medial meniscus (Chase tore the lateral meniscus–I don’t know if that’s a meaningful difference) in July during Team U.S.A. workouts and was ready to go in Clippers training camp in October. A rough estimate for his timeline would be 2 or 3 months, I think. They’ll know more after surgery.
Budinger’s absence will be felt. He is currently the team’s second-leading scorer and leading scorer per minute. His play seemed to be quickly improving too. With Brandon Roy also on the shelf, with an undetermined return date, Budinger had been moved to the starting shooting guard spot.
Where do we go from here? Let’s begin with a likely starting lineup in Budinger and Roy’s absence:
- PG – Luke Ridnour
- SG – Alexey Shved
- SF – Andrei Kirilenko
- PF – Derrick Williams or Dante Cunningham
- C – Nikola Pekovic
With Shved looking more and more like a needed playmaker, the starting lineup change might do more good than harm. However, there is literally nobody else to play shooting guard as long as Barea and Roy are injured. They’ll have to use a three-guard rotation of Ridnour, Shved, and Malcolm Lee. If any of those three goes down, we’re officially in Will Conroy territory, which is not a good place to be.
What about small forward? Kirilenko can’t play the whole game. It appears that Derrick Williams will see some time at this spot, unless a trade is made very soon. Expect AK47′s 33.0 minutes per game to increase to 38 or 39, immediately. It would help if Brandon Roy could return soon, because I think he can play small forward for stretches. The other night he was defending Josh McRoberts while Kirilenko defended the shooting guard, Arron Afflalo.
Things were obviously not good when Budinger was helped off the floor with a non-contact knee injury. On the whole, I think a meniscus tear is good news. But Rick Adelman’s job continues to be complicated by knee injuries.