The top pick in the 2009 draft missed his introductory year in the pros when he sustained a stress fracture in his left knee during the Clippers' summer league. Though he was expected to return before the season's end, tests revealed his knee hadn't recovered properly and required surgery. In his delayed regular-season debut, against the Trail Blazers on Oct. 27, he notched a double-double (20 points, 14 boards), including monster dunks for his first two buckets.
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On Aug. 24, after missing an entire season following complex foot surgery, seven-time All-Star center Yao Ming was cleared for a full return to basketball. The Rockets expected all along to have their 7-foot-6 center back for the upcoming season, but before receiving clearance from doctors, Yao told reporters that if he wasn't able to make a complete comeback, he would consider retiring. GM Daryl Morey says the team will be cautious with Yao and limit his minutes early in the season. But Yao's not the only one trying to make a successful return from an injury. Here's a look at some other big names in the same situation.
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When the Blazers selected Oden with the first pick in the 2007 draft, ahead of Kevin Durant, they didn't expect three seasons and four injuries (right knee surgery in 2007, foot injury in 2008, chipped kneecap and fractured left patella in 2009) to sideline him. Oden has sat out since Dec. 5 of last year after having knee surgery. It's unclear whether Oden will be ready for Portland's season opener.
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Just nine days and four games after being traded to the Wizards, Howard underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left knee -- an operation that was expected to keep him off the court for six to eight months. While he was recovering, the Wizards signed him to a one-year deal worth nearly $4 million that included incentives based on minutes and games played. Quite the drop-off from the $11.8 million team option for 2010-11 that was part of his old contract. Should he return to his All-Star form of 2007 this season, the deal may work in his favor.
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Bogut, the league's second-leading shot-blocker (2.54 per game) behind Dwight Howard, endured a gruesome injury with two weeks left in the regular season. When his hands slipped off the rim while going up for a fast-break dunk, Bogut slammed to the floor and dislocated his right elbow, broke his hand and index finger and fractured two bones in his wrist. As of now, it's unclear if Bogut -- who, up until his injuries, had been enjoying a breakout season with career-high averages of 15.9 points, 2.5 blocks and 7.1 defensive rebounds -- will be good to go by the start of the season.
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Last January, the 10-year veteran and former All-Star tore his ACL and MCL in the same knee he had injured nearly a year earlier. He lost the remainder of his 2009-10 season, and just like his $90.9 million contract, his NBA career may be expiring.
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The 6-foot-11 Okur ruptured his Achilles tendon in Utah's first playoff game, against the Nuggets. He missed not only the rest of the postseason but also the FIBA World Championship, which is held in his native Turkey this summer. As for the upcoming NBA season, Okur, who led the league in total blocks (81) and rebounds (515) in 2009-10, is still questionable for Utah's opener.
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The Celtics' powerful and defensive-oriented center went down in Game 6 of the 2010 Finals with a torn MCL and PCL in his right knee. After sitting through Boston's Game 7 title loss to the Lakers, Perkins underwent surgery and isn't expected back until February. Doc Rivers' solution: Sign Jermaine O'Neal and Shaq in the offseason.
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Two months into the 2009-10 season, the Trail Blazers' center ruptured and dislocated the patella in his right knee and immediately had surgery to repair the damage. His missed the rest of the season. But in March, in the midst of his recovery, he reinjured his knee when he slipped in the shower. The 10-year veteran is expected to be back for opening night.
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So it's not quite a comeback. Just eight days after undergoing knee surgery, the Blazers' top scorer (21.5 ppg) shocked his teammates and fans when he decided to return for the playoffs. Though he provided a morale boost and a win for Portland, Roy clearly wasn't 100 percent. He should be, though, by the start of the season.
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