A day after deciding to let the trade deadline pass without making a major money-saving move, the inactivity seemingly has turned incredibly costly for the Phoenix Suns.
The beleaguered Suns announced Friday that Amare Stoudemire was forced to undergo eye surgery to repair a partially detached retina suffered in a Wednesday night rout of the Los Angeles Clippers. It is Stoudemire's second eye injury since October and the All-Star forward could miss the rest of the regular season.
Stoudemire's return to physical activity has been estimated at eight weeks by the Suns. He underwent surgery Friday morning, although the club said in a statement that "recovery varies on a case-by-case basis."
The Suns were just starting to feel a sense of optimism about salvaging something from this painful season after replacing coach Terry Porter with Alvin Gentry on Monday, ringing up 282 points in back-to-back victories over the Clippers and getting the go-ahead Thursday from owner Robert Sarver to keep hold of Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal after shopping both this month in an attempt to significantly reduce Sarver's payroll.
But the injury suffered by Stoudemire when he was poked in the eye during his 42-point game against the Clippers means the Suns will have to try to make the playoffs without him, which was not going to be easy even with a healthy Stoudemire. The Suns awoke Friday as the West's No. 9 team in an eight-team race with a record of 30-23, one game short of the eighth spot.
Stoudemire suffered a partially torn iris early in training camp in October after being inadvertently poked in the eye by then-teammate Boris Diaw. Stoudemire suffered no damage to the retina or cornea at that time, but said he would likely wear protective goggles for the rest of his career to keep his eyes safe. But Stoudemire didn't stay with the goggles long, saying they compromised his on-court comfort level.
"We are very glad to hear that Amare should have a 100 percent recovery relative to his vision and his long-term prognosis is excellent," Suns president Steve Kerr said in a statement after Stoudemire had surgery.
"Obviously, it is very disappointing to lose him at this time. We are all very excited about the progress the team is making, but Amare's health and the health of all our players is our No. 1 concern."
Senior writer Marc Stein covers the NBA for ESPN.com.
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