Just when things were beginning to look up for the Phoenix Suns.
The team announced that power forward Amar'e Stoudemire -- on the trading block until he stepped up his game after a recent coaching change -- underwent surgery today for a "partially detached retina" and will be out for eight weeks "depending upon his healing process."
If he's out for this average amount of time for such an injury, it means the team's high scorer (21.4 points a game) will be gone for the rest of the regular season, not returning to action before April 17. If there is any action for the Suns past their final regular-season game with the Golden State Warriors on April 15.
Currently, the 30-23 Suns are ninth in the Western Conference, a game out of the playoffs.
They play the terrible Oklahoma City Thunder at 7 p.m. tonight at US Airways Center, but heaven help them on Sunday afternoon when the 44-12 Celtics hit town ( though they will get a bit of a break with Boston team leader and star forward Kevin Garnett out with a knee injury).
Not to mention that Phoenix plays six top teams over the next 10 games, including the league-leading Los Angeles Lakers twice.
You may remember that Stoudemire was covering his right eye and wincing in pain after going up to block a would-be dunk in the Suns' game with the Clippers Wednesday night in L.A. This hand or arm to the eye -- the same eye Stoudemire injured in training camp this year -- was how he got hurt.
The surgery was performed by Dr. Pravin Dugel at Spectra Eye Institute in Sun City.
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"We are very glad to hear that Amar'e should have a 100 percent recovery relative to his vision and his long-term prognosis is excellent," Suns GM Steve Kerr stated. "Obviously, it is very disappointing to lose him at this time. We are all very excited about the progress the team is making, but Amar'e's health and the health of all our players is our number one concern."
Indeed, Stoudemire scored 42 points and had 11 rebounds at Staples Center Wednesday night in the fast-paced offense reinstituted by interim head coach Alvin Gentry, after head coach Terry Porter was fired following the NBA All-Star Game (where Stoudemire started for the West).
Soudemire had been the subject of intense trade talk, because he under-performed in Porter's defensive-minded system. But the league trade deadline passed Thursday without a move of any Suns player, and Kerr said he wanted to keep the current team together to see what they could do now that another coach's at the helm.
Gentry's got his work cut out for him now. Stoudemire had appeared in every Suns game this season.