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Friday, March 12, 2004 - Page updated at 02:21 P.M.
By Percy Allen
This might be an ominous omen. After just one day of training camp with the entire squad, five Sonics were saddled with injuries so severe that they were unable to practice on the second day.
Imagine the calamity that might befall them once the regular season begins.
Coach Nate McMillan attempted to lighten the somber mood that permeated his post-practice interview by insisting that many of the wounded Sonics could play if it were absolutely necessary.
However, when the subject turned to Nick Collison, the Sonics' top draft pick who injured his left shoulder in Tuesday morning's practice, the coach chose his words carefully.
"There's a concern about Nick and his situation," McMillan said. "He may be out for a period of time."
Results from a magnetic-resonance-imaging scan (MRI) that Collison underwent Tuesday night revealed that the 6-foot-9 power forward suffered a shoulder subluxation, which is a partial dislocation of the joint.
Had Collison dislocated his shoulder, he would have needed assistance to place the joint in its normal position.
General manager Rick Sund said yesterday Collison's shoulder "popped out and popped in on its own."
The difference is significant, however. Collison will undergo a second examination before the team decides how it will treat the injury.
Collison's options include rest, rehabilitation or surgery. If the latter were chosen, then he would likely miss the entire season.
At the least, the start of Collison's career will be delayed as he's not expected to return to the court any time soon.
Three days ago, the 12th overall draft pick from Kansas spoke about competing for a starting spot and the importance of training camp.
"This is the time to learn and make good impressions with the coaching staff," he said. "With all the guys being here, I just want to show that I'm somebody who's going to work hard every day."
A year ago, Rashard Lewis aggravated a shoulder injury and contemplated surgery before deciding to rest and strengthen the joint with exercise.
The Sonics' small forward said he played with some discomfort for the entire season, but was able to start 77 games and average 18.1 points and 6.5 rebounds.
"I don't want to say Rashard's (injury) is that or Nick's is this," Sund said. "But Rashard's was not real severe. In Rashard's case (after reviewing) the MRI, the decision was if he could strengthen it, he would have a minor risk of subluxing it again. With Nick, we haven't made any of those decisions yet."
According to Sund, Collison has no history of shoulder problems and during his four-year career at Kansas he never missed a game because of injury, and skipped just one practice because of a tailbone injury.
The Sonics have yet to decide which physician will perform the second examination or when it will occur.
In fact, the team is unsure how Collison injured himself during the four-on-four drill. Players said he was attempting to retrieve a loose ball, but no one could determine with certainty if Collison collided with another player.
Collison was unavailable yesterday.
For a team that needs breaks to compete in the Western Conference, the 2003-04 campaign has begun with an eerie bout of misfortune.
The Sonics' other first-round draft pick, point guard Luke Ridnour, suffered an abdominal injury during the offseason and is limited to non-contact drills for the next two weeks.
Brent Barry didn't leave the first practice unscathed, injuring his lower back.
McMillan said the point guard participated in the early portions of yesterday morning's practice before leaving at least 30 minutes earlier than the rest of the squad.
Center Jerome James was absent on the second day because of an upper respiratory infection and reserve center Calvin Booth has not practiced during training camp because of a strain in his lower back.
"Every year it seems like we're coming in with one of the young guys that we're looking at developing for the season, and somehow they get off to a slow start and some type of injury," McMillan said. "It's a setback."
After exhausting trade options, the Sonics officially released guard Joseph Forte yesterday.
The Sonics have named guard Ray Allen one of their captains. He joins Lewis and Barry.
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