Warriors forward David Lee has had a second surgery to clean out his infected elbow, and general manager Larry Riley said the player is headed to a full recovery.
"I'm totally comfortable with the situation," Riley said of Lee, who remains in Stanford Hospital and likely will be sidelined for at least 10 more days. "He's getting excellent care and this thing will be resolved."
Lee will remain in the hospital for the next few days and will continue on antibiotics and will be required to rest when he is released. The infection will have to be completely eliminated before he can return to action. The injury occurred last Wednesday in New York when an accidental elbow to the mouth of the Knicks' Wilson Chandler led to a laceration on the inner elbow of Lee's left arm.
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 the infection did not spread to the muscle or bone. He said Lee's elbow "is in good shape," and the injury is not career-threatening as long as the player receives proper treatment.
Maloney said these types of injuries are "notorious," and that 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 last season during a collision with then-Houston forward Carl Landry. One of Landry's teeth lodged into Nowitzki's right elbow. But the Mavericks star did not return to action and avoided infection. He missed only one game.
Lee came out of the Warriors-Knicks game, his arm was heavily wrapped with bandages, 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 wrapping. In the fourth quarter, he could be seen grimacing and favoring his left elbow.
The next morning, Lee checked into the emergency room of a Chicago hospital complaining of excruciating pain. He received pain medication and antibiotics. He attended the game against the Bulls on Thursday, his unwrapped elbow swollen and discolored. He wound up going back to the hospital after the game and staying overnight.
On Friday morning, Lee and Riley flew back to the Bay Area with new owner Joe Lacob. Surgery to clean out the wound was performed 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, rejecting the notion the infection was caused by the Warriors wrapping the wound and allowing Lee to return to the game rather than treating it 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."
New York at Warriors, 7:30 p.m. CSNBA