David Lee’s Elbow has “Turned the Corner” for the Better; Return Unlikely Before Late Next Week


By Marcus Thompson II

After his second surgery to clean out his infected elbow, Warriors forward David Lee has finally “turned the corner” and is headed to full recovery.
That is according to Warriors general manager Larry Riley and the doctor who performed the second surgery. Lee is resting at Stanford Hospital after a follow-up surgery to cleanse the infected area. He is likely to be out at least another 10 days.
“I’m totally comfortable with the situation,” Riley said. “He’s getting excellent care and this thing will be resolved.”
Lee will remain at Stanford Hospital for the next couple days as they are feeding him antibiotics intravenously. He will still be on an antibiotic regimen when he is released and will be required to rest. The wound has to be closed and the infection will have to be completely eradicated before Lee can return to action. Even when he checks out, Lee will be continuously monitored and will have to be evaluated again at Stanford before he is cleared.

According to sources, the initial expectation after Lee sustained the injury on Nov. 12 was that Lee would be out about two weeks. That timetable could still be accurate though it is possible Lee could be out a bit longer.
Dr. Bill Maloney, head of orthopedic surgery at Stanford Hospital, said the infection was in Lee’s skin and in the tissue directly below the skin. He performed the second surgical cleansing and said it did not spread to the muscle or bone.
He said Lee’s elbow “is in good shape.” The swelling is going down and the skin is returning to its normal color. He said the injury is not career threatening but the proper treatment is imperative.
While Lee’s case is average, Maloney said these types of injuries are “notorious.” He said he’s seen cases where the wound needed to be surgically cleansed four or five times.
“This is the equivalent of a human bite wound,” Maloney said. “The mouth, unfortunately, is a very dirty place. We see this in your average Saturday night bar brawls when someone punches someone in the mouth and they have a puncture wound from someone’s teeth. It’s usually in the hand.”
Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki had a similar injury. On Dec. 18, 2009, after a collision in the paint, Nowtizki had had a tooth from then-Houston forward Carl Landry lodged into his right elbow. But Nowitzki, who had his elbow treated immediately and did not return to action, avoided infection and missed only one game.
Lee wasn’t so lucky. He has already missed three games and is out for Friday’s game at New York. It would be just shy of a miracle if he plays the following back-to-back set, Sunday at the Los Angeles Lakers and Monday vs. Denver.
He sustained the injury late in the third quarter in a game at New York, his first match-up against his former team. An accidental elbow to the mouth of Knicks forward Wilson Chandler led to a laceration on the inner elbow of Lee’s left arm.
Lee came out of the game, his arm was wrapped three times over with tape, and he checked back in 10 seconds later. He played the rest of the game but the bleeding persisted, enough to be seen through the tape. In the fourth quarter, he could be seen grimacing and favoring his left elbow.
The next morning, Lee checked into the emergency room of Rush Memorial Hospital in Chicago complaining of excruciating pain. He was given pain medicine and antibiotics. He attended the game against the Bulls that night, his unwrapped wound swollen to the size of a softball and discolored. He wound up going back to the hospital after the game and staying overnight.
Friday morning, Lee and Riley flew back to the Bay Area with new owner Joe Lacob. Dr. Frank Chen performed surgery to clean out the wound Friday night at the Fremont Surgery Center.
After little progress was evident, Lee was admitted to Stanford Hospital on Sunday night for treatment and monitoring.
“It would’ve happened no matter what they did,” said Maloney, rebutting the notion that the infection was caused by the wound being wrapped instead of treated immediately.
“It was a dirty wound. No matter what they’d done in New York, it would have had to be opened up and cleaned out.”

Marcus Thompson

  • dw

    Hey Marcus,
    Has anyone ever told you that you complain too much? First the gumbo, now whining about a column on your day off? Geez man if you gave us 20 and 10 a night I could deal but for now just stick to the guy that does (lee) thx!!!

  • deano

    The Knicks and GSW medical staffs blew this one. The Nowitzki protocol should have been followed immediately. I feel better knowing that Lee is now being treated at Stanford. Beat Cal!

  • Nice work Marcus, thx.

  • Grey Warden

    Oh how wonderful. More playing time for Vladimir Radmanovic *groan*

  • warrior beil

    we need a backup pg (billups?) and make a trade for Tayshawn prince now! Get better D.Lee

  • Marcus Thompson



  • gsw_hoop

    Has Garry Saint Jean been by to visit you David. I know that would cheer me up.

  • W’s in 2010

    I’m not picking on you MT, I’m gonna ask Rusty on his blog too, and Steinmetz the next time he chats BUT… Why does nobody ask Smart why he plays VladRad so much?

    A 25% shooter who doesn’t play any D or rebound. He’s been a net negative every single game so far. Does BWright suck so bad he deserves to get a DNP while DLee’s on his death bed? Jeff Adrien works hard, rebounds and dives on the floor. I’d even rather see DWright slide down to PF than VladRad get a single minute. I don’t get why nobody has called Smart out on this.

  • sco_lo_pro

    The kinda detail we love MT. Thanks for breakin it down.

  • fanman


    what is going on here? This guy will never blossom if you do not give him opportunities. This is the same player that we traded jason richardson for and is the only player that has hopes of having a low post game ……there is nobody on the team that at any point when david lee isn’t in the game that is a low post scoring threat. Nobody even plays defense on the block on biedrins or any big man they have. Please look at the game footage of how easily brandan wright….when in the game…..put backs and boards……you give him 15-20 minutes minimum and he will give you 10 pts 10 boards minimum… if he played more than biedrins I guarantee you that he would average about 11-12 rebounds per game

  • JB

    I totally agree with “W’s in 2010”. Why does Smart play Radmonovic? He is horrible, his +/- numbers are horrible. He made a couple of good passes against Detroit, but overall this year, he hasn’t been able to make shots or defend. I hate seeing him on the floor. I wish they would play A.B. more minutes, Adrien more minutes and give BWright more of a chance to gain some confidence. What does the coaching staff see in Vlad?

  • robert rowell

    #8 i can tell you why. who the hell else are they gonna play? it’s sad, but the W’s cleaned out their bench, and haven’t exactly replaced them with reliable players. cj, randolph, turiaf, morrow, maggette replaced by gadzurich, bell and carney?

    i don’t think that undrafted adrien can slide out and play a versatile 4. he’s been great at banging inside, however, too many 4’s in the Association also have a jump shot and that causes match up problems.

    let’s all do ourselves a favor and completely forget bwright. forget that we traded jrich for him, forget the 10 mil trade exception that expired, forget that the W’s FO reupped him, let’s just forget the whole thing.

    lou should help us once he gets back, whenever that will be. but for now monta and curry will have to carry us-and, i might add, they aren’t doing too bad a job of it.

  • becka

    stinks that david lee is going to be out for a long time. thankfully he is turning a good corner. get well and soon david.

  • Frustration Sensation

    # 10 has a good point. not that maggs or morrow were defensive stoppers, but if we had a healthy turiaf, or that kind of player, it would go a long ways right about now.

    i am soo fed up with vlad rad. the inbounds pass to villanueva in detroit made me livid and his brain fart on the pick and roll against the bucks was unbelievable. chris hunter was more impressive than vladimir has been thus far.

  • Greg

    I Totally Agree When I see Vlad come in I change the channel, I don’t know why I dislike him so much but he looks like a little girl out there, hit occasional three and I mean occasional but it doesn’t make up for no even attempting to rebound not playing Defense, just looks lost out there

    Keep One Hand on the Keyboard

  • Steve

    RR, the Warriors aren’t contractually tied to BW after this season.

    “The Warriors declined to offer forward Brandan Wright a contract extension by the Nov. 1 deadline. So Wright will become a restricted free agent at season’s end, joining the likes of Portland’s Greg Oden, Oklahoma City’s Jeff Green, Detroit’s Rodney Stuckey and Houston’s Aaron Brooks. Only six first-round draft picks from the 2007 class received extensions”

  • coltraning

    let’s repeat: The Ws traded two injury-prone guys who are bench players on any decent team and are NOW INJURED and a borderline basketball moron IQ potential guy who continues to underachieve in NYC for a true blue collar all-star. THAT’S why we don’t have Turiaf, Azu and special Anthony. I have to give props to Riley. Every move he has made, from somehow getting someone to take Maggette, to getting the third best move of the FA, after Lebron-Bosh and Amare, to signing the best available FA towards the end in Lou, not bad, not bad at all. Once Lou and Udoh return, coupled with Gadzuric and Adrien and Williams and Carney, not to mention the ever-erratic new fan fave (read white guy, esp Asian white guy Lin in the role of Marco Bellinelli) the Ws will couple a very good starting 5 with a decent bench…45 wins is not out of the question, and anyone who wants to bitch and moan about a 20 win improvement knows less about bball than would warrant posting about it…

  • coltraning

    and yes, the sooner they move B Wright, the better…

  • efrain

    MT, don’t know much about you. I’m from the bay and a warrior fan since rick barry days, living elsewhere now.
    It bother’s me that no is really digging into the Lee injury more – it seems like everyone is “passing the buck” and saying, “it happens.” I was in NY at the time, and mentioned the second it happened this was not going to be good. Either the the Knicks staff really screwed up (which would be a surprise) or the warriors staff were left with their pants down. Someone really screwed this up and someone should be either fired or at the very least suspended. The new owners should ask for more accountability from the entire org. not just the players and coaches.
    Two weeks of no David Lee on the team could mean 1 to 2 games difference which seems like no big deal in November but may be big at the end of the year trying to get a playoff spot. Instead of being a cheerleader for the organization MT why don’t you reach for getting at the root of the ordeal and get some real answers.

  • efrain

    hey mt instead of writing fluff and “homer” type, cheerleading articles, why don’t you really delve into the issue of Lee’s injury and the fact somebody really screwed up and either deserves to lose their job or at least be called out and reprimanded.
    The minute the injury happened anyone who has half a sense knew it could be bad, if it’s a human tooth fragment in question – doesn’t take a doctor to know this. Of course the Mavericks, and Cuban’s top staff were able treat Nowitzki’s injury. Poor Lee was stuck with Knicks and Warriors staffs, a nightmare waiting to happen.
    It’s starnge how you bypass the issues and state that it was expected. No, the fact is somebody really screwed up, and instead of cheerleading why don’t you try to get to the issues, since your such an insider.

  • J-Walk

    I agree! How come writers are more than willing to hang a player out to dry when there performance doesn’t cut the mustard. However, when a trainer or team doctor proves to be an idiot, he escapes being called out. For what? I still haven’t found a writer to show his chops and get to the bottom of why this happened. Parading a doctor out to say “this would have needed to be opened and cleaned regardless of what happened in New York” is a smokescreen. Typical Warrior PR bullshit. Is it really a new day? Then hold people accountable. If the owners don’t want to do the obvious and upgrade there training staff, then at least the writers can call them out for malpractice and expose them to public scrutiny. Lee is lucky he escaped a more serious problem which could have been career threatening. If I was the owner, someones head would roll. If I was the writer, I would be asking why someones head isn’t rolling.

  • dubfan

    Agree all the way around. That this happened at all and that Lee was denied, apparently, proper and prudent treatment is terrible. And if all of us speculators about what was or was not done, or what could have been, or should have been done are wrong, then let’s hear about it! The press is really demonstrating a lack of mettle in this one. Maybe we don’t know the truth, and there may not have been any egregious medical decisions made about treating Lee , but it sure as hell seems like it from many of us armchair doctors using the modicum of logic. I know that I thought it right away, and I remember seeing Lee wincing in obvious terrible pain even during the game, with all that adrenaline going and I knew that this was not good…but at the very least, you had to think that he would get the best medical treatment anywhere…hell, they’re paying him more than $10 million a year to play. You’d sure expect they’d protect their valuable and expensive invenstment. And again, maybe I’m wrong, maybe we’re all wrong (but don’t think so), but c’mon, reporters, let’s hear about it. Do a little digging and find the truth. And if the truth is that his treatment was botched, heads indeed should roll.

  • Tim1234

    Chris Hunter is playing in the D league. Last year he showed that he was better than BW, Rad, Adrian and not far behind AB and the Ws other center from Milwaukee. Why not bring him up while Lee is down? He was slowed by a bad knee injury that has healed…give him a chance, he earned it. Also, why not have a sacrifice at mid court to exorcise the Cohen demons? It worked for the Mayans. The people involved in the JR trade for (I can’t even say his name) would be good candidates. Might increase attendence too.

  • Marcus,I don’t understand your gratuitous slam of Nellie in today’s Merc. Who on this team would Nellie play at power forward but Vlad Rad? And if you’ve been watching, you’ll know that Smart has ALREADY used DWright at power forward in the small ball unit at the end of games.(Which is why Smart needed that head-to-head meeting with DWright. Like his namesake, he hasn’t been rebounding.)

  • Marcus Thompson


    How was it gratuitous, for starters? And the point was as a steady diet and not for spot minutes. He’s used Jeff Adrien at center before, doesn’t mean Jeff Adrien is the center. I asked him why he would not use Wright at PF and play reggie. Obviously, we’re not talking for a few minutes.

  • The idea that Nellie would play small-ball for more than “a few minutes” with a healthy Andris Biedrins and a healthy David Lee (who NELLIE traded for) is beyond ridiculous. Is it too much to ask Nellie bashers to have a basic inkling of the lineups Nellie used in Dallas, when he had big men who could actually play?