Another Blazers center headed for surgery

Camby is fifth Blazer to have knee surgery this season

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

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Broken record isn’t quite the right description here. It’s more like torn record, or ruptured record, or maybe arthritic record.

The Trail Blazers announced Tuesday that Marcus Camby has a partial meniscus tear in his left knee and will undergo surgery later this week. There is no timetable for the center’s return.

“I wish I was dreaming, but I’m not,” said Blazers coach Nate McMillan, whose team will play the Kings in Sacramento tonight. “It’s just hard to believe that there are so many situations like this where players are out for a long period of time. We’re not losing guys to injuries they can play through. They’re having surgeries.”

Camby will be the fifth Blazer to endure knee surgery this season, joining Jeff Pendergraph, Greg Oden, Elliot Williams and Brandon Roy. Pendergraph and Oden also were centers.

McMillan said there’s a good chance Joel Przybilla will replace the 7-footer in the starting lineup, but matching his production won’t be easy. Camby’s 11.3 rebounds per game rank fifth in the NBA and his 1.9 blocks per game are ninth.

Przybilla meanwhile, has played more than 10 minutes only four times 16 games this season — although he did tally six point and seven rebounds in 18 minutes against Minnesota on Monday. Sean Marks also will likely see time at the five spot, and Dante Cunningham should receive more minutes in the post.

Camby tweaked his knee in the first quarter Monday when he landed awkwardly after a shot-blocking attempt. He ambled into the locker room shortly after and did not return to the game.

McMillan confessed he was blindsided by the extent of the injury, saying it was “kind of subtle” when it occurred and that he was “surprised to hear (Tuesday) morning that it was that serious.”

In fact, the initial MRI came back negative, although Camby’s pronounced limp after Tuesday’s practice offered evidence to the contrary.

The 37-year-old said at the time that Blazers orthopedist Dr. Don Roberts would further examine the MRI before any decisions were made, and while Camby stated that he’d “probably” play against Sacramento today, his countenance said otherwise.

Then, when asked if he’d ever had a knee injury before, he proffered an ominous response.

“Little nicks and bruises,” he said, “but nothing serious like what’s been going on around here.”

The Blazers lose Camby at a time where they sit primed to distance themselves from Western Conference foes. Portland (22-20) currently holds the eighth and final playoff spot in the standings, but plays its next four games against sub-.500 teams, three of which will be at home.

So is this a make-or-break stretch seeing how the Blazers should beat these clubs? Depends on which of McMillan’s answers one accepts.

“I think all games are must-win situations. I don’t understand the ‘should beat.’ That’s why you play the games,” McMillan said. “There are teams under .500, but we’re right around .500 ... you can’t take that attitude.”

You sure?

“They’re important games because you are playing some teams that are under .500 and you are at home,” McMillan said about a minute later.

Regardless of how significant the pending contests may be, here are the hard facts: Tonight, the Blazers play the Kings (9-30), owners of the Western Conference’s worst record. Thursday, they come back to Portland to host the Clippers (15-25), whose wins over Miami and the Lakers last week suggest the second half of their season will hardly reflect the first.

Two nights later, the Pacers (16-22) come to town, followed by a rematch with the Kings Monday night.

After that? Boston and San Antonio — the NBA’s two best teams — followed by six of seven games on the road.