This column provides an overview of the league's injured players, including those who are still rehabbing and those who have already recovered from significant injuries. Timetables are subject to change, and every player responds differently to different injuries, so I will periodically update this column until the start of the season.
*Disclaimer*: Every player thinks they'll be "100 percent" healthy for opening night. Some feel they'll return even better and stronger than before their injury, and many of their coaches claim to feel the same way. Most of them are wrong, and when someone 'hopes' to be ready for a certain date/event, that optimism should be balanced out with a healthy dose of skepticism. I'm passing along the most relevant, up-to-date information available...judge for yourself.
We’ll progress alphabetically through the Eastern Conference…for the Western Conference, check out this other column in the Draft Guide!
Miles Plumlee (right knee debridement) had his knee cleaned out immediately after the regular season, with a 6-8 week timetable that gives him plenty of time for camp. Plumlee was traded this summer to the Hawks, who now owe him the remainder of the four-year, $52 million deal he signed with the Bucks last summer. Aside from his health, Plumlee could face repercussions from the league stemming from a marijuana-possession arrest this summer.
Allen Crabbe (left foot surgery) was cleared for on-court work in late-June, about six weeks after he had surgery to repair a stress reaction in his fifth metatarsal. Brooklyn didn't seem worried about the injury when they traded for him, and early reports have Crabbe opening the season as the Nets' starting SF.
Joe Harris (left shoulder) was shut down last season after a rough fall in early March, but he should be ready for camp. Brooklyn picked up a $1.5 million team option for Harris this season, though the Nets' glut of wing players makes it unlikely he'll be a significant rotation player.
Kemba Walker (arthroscopic left knee surgery) made a cameo during 2017 Africa exhibition, after initially being ruled out. The minor procedure he had in May was never expected to limit him for long, and he's ready to roll.
Zach LaVine (torn left ACL) might be able to return "shortly after the start of the season," according to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. All signs point to LaVine being ahead of his expected timetable, but it's important to note that Chicago will play it very safe. They're clearly in a rebuild mode and VP John Paxson confirmed in late June that they'll "err on the side of caution" with their newly-acquired SG.
Quincy Pondexter (left knee surgery) is still out indefinitely. He was acquired by the Bulls in a straight salary-dump from New Orleans, and it's unclear what his role would be even if he manages to stay healthy. That's not a given, of course, as repeated injuries have sidelined him since 2015.
Cameron Payne (right foot surgery) suffered a fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his right foot, the same foot he broke twice last season. He's unlikely to return until late November, according to initial reports, and the Bulls might be "moving on" from Payne regardless of his health.
Isaiah Thomas (right hip) opted not to have surgery this summer, and his health was a major plot point in the blockbuster that sent him to Cleveland in a package for Kyrie Irving. Fantasy owners will be scrutinizing his activity (or lack thereof) during camp and the preseason, as his season-ending injury was serious -- he aggravated "a right femoral-acetabular impingement" while suffering a labral tear. "I should be ready by camp, but I’m getting back in the gym shooting and being able to work out in the weight room and get my cardio back," Thomas said in August. "I’ve been [resting] for two and a half months since the season ended." He wasn't running as of early September, however, and it's looking more and more likely that he'll miss time to begin the season.
Andre Drummond (surgery to repair a deviated septum) has fully recovered from surgery in early May. "I'm in great shape and I can actually breath since I've gotten that surgery," Drummond said. He admitted that he disappointed in 2016-17, and coach Stan Van Gundy has challenged him to win Defensive Player of the Year this season. We could be looking at a big year for Detroit's prized center.
Reggie Jackson (left knee) hadn't been cleared for basketball activities as of early September, which is an ominous development. The 27-year-old PG is coming off a disappointing season in which he averaged 14.5 points on 41.9% shooting, 5.2 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 0.7 steals. All those numbers were down compared to 2015-16, he played in just 52 games due to injuries, and he struggled to fend off Ish Smith. Even if he is healthy to begin the season, he's not a guy to reach for.
Pacers rookie Ike Anigbogu (right knee surgery) will “likely” be ready for training camp, according to a report in late June. Anigbogu sat out Summer League for “precautionary reasons” as he recovers from surgery to repair his meniscus, but all signs point to his being available on opening night.
Justise Winslow (right shoulder surgery) is "way ahead of schedule" as he recovers from a torn labrum, according to Pat Riley. He began "very light rehab" during the All-Star break and declared in late August that his shoulder was "100 percent." All signs point to his being fully recovered prior to training camp, where he'll battle for the starting SF job.
Jabari Parker (torn left ACL) looked "fantastic" in early August, according to Bucks GM Jon Horst, but Milwaukee is going to be excessively cautious with their young forward. "This is not about this year. This is about a 22-year-old kid who is one of the best young talents in the league, and making sure he comes back physically in the right way." Parker has torn his left ACL twice in three seasons and there's a good chance that he'll have strict medical limits whenever he's cleared to play in games -- a return in February is possible, according to coach Jason Kidd.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) skipped EuroBasket due to a vague injury, which the Greek National Team dismissed as "an organized and well-staged plan" by the Bucks. Whether or not Milwaukee took extra steps to prevent their versatile star from playing in Europe, he'll be fine for camp and the preseason.
New York Knicks
Joakim Noah (right rotator cuff surgery) had a five-month timetable after surgery in late-April, leaving him questionable for camp and the preseason. The Knicks' decision to sign him for $72 million last summer looks worse than ever. Willy Hernangomez and Kyle O'Quinn will pick up the slack if Noah misses games or is at all limited, and Kristaps Porzingis should also see plenty of minutes at center. In case you've forgotten, Noah has 12 games left on a suspension for testing positive for Androgen last season.
Frank Ntilikina (sore right knee) didn't play in Summer League but his ailment isn't considered serious. Ntilikina is just 19 years old and he needs to bulk up to compete with guards in the NBA, but he should get every opportunity as a rookie for the rebuilding Knicks. He'll be fine for training camp.
Jonathan Isaac (strained left hip) sat out the final two games of Summer League in Orlando, but an MRI ruled out any serious damage. The Magic were just playing it safe with their prized rookie, who will vie for minutes behind Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier. With guys like Jonathon Simmons, Mario Hezonja and Aaron Afflalo also in the mix, however, Isaac is just a stash in deeper re-draft leagues.
Joel Embiid (left knee surgery) skipped Summer League to continue rehabbing from surgery in March to repair his torn left meniscus. The good news is that the injury wasn't as severe as initially feared. "I went in [to surgery] thinking I was going to have a six-month recovery," Embiid said. "When they did the MRI [before the surgery], it looked like my meniscus was fully torn. But when they got it in there, they realized that wasn't the case. It really turned out to be nothing, just a small, little thing. So that's very good." He hadn't been cleared for contact activities as of late August, but is still optimistic that he'll be ready for camp. The Sixers have basically said that he'll have both a minute-limit and back-to-back restrictions.
Robert Covington (right knee surgery) had his torn meniscus repaired in mid-April. He described it as a "baby tear" and was given a 4-6 week timetable. He confirmed in late August that he plans to be ready for training camp.
Jahlil Okafor (knee) was spotted running in late June, but otherwise we haven't heard much about his physical progress. He's taken to a "mostly vegan" diet and it sounds like he'll be in good shape for training camp, but he faces an uphill battle for minutes with Joel Embiid and Richaun Holmes on the roster.
Gerald Henderson (left hip surgery) could miss the entire 2017-18 season. "I have been playing through severe pain that has made it difficult to play to the best of my ability," Henderson said. "Now the pain has started to impact my everyday life off the court." He's still just 29 years old, but retirement could be a possibility if the surgery isn't a permanent solution.
Timothe Luwawu (patellar tendinitis) skipped EuroBasket this summer. It's unclear which knee was affected by what is commonly known as 'Jumper's Knee', but either way there's no doubt that he'll be ready for training camp.
Jerryd Bayless (left wrist surgery) is expected to be ready for training camp. The presence of Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons and T.J. McConnell all but guarantee that Bayless will be playing the 'veteran mentor' role this season, with limited on-court duties.
Ian Mahinmi (minor left knee surgery) had surgery soon after the 2016-17 season ended. He has reportedly lost weight and gotten into good shape, but injuries are a major concern -- last year he tore the meniscus in his left knee, had PRP therapy on both knees to address tendinitis, and strained his left calf.
Kelly Oubre (right knee) had PRP injections in early June, but he was back on the court working out by July. The Wizards have talked up Oubre as a potential "difference maker" this summer, but even at full strength he's just a flier pick in most leagues.