Adam Keefe certainly isn't happy the NBA owners and its players union haven't been able to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. But, in a way, it may be good for the Utah Jazz forward that training camp won't open as previously scheduled on Oct. 6.
Keefe is still trying to shake a nagging foot injury sustained midway through last season. Even with three months away from basketball, extensive therapy and medical injections into his foot, it's still bothering him. While the final decision hasn't been made, surgery may end up being the best option.For now Keefe is hoping the foot will improve enough that he'll be ready for camp whenever it starts. Having training camp postponed indefinitely may give him the extra healing time he needs.
"I'm probably lucky we're going to be starting late," said Keefe, who is back in town prior to his fourth season with the Jazz.
One of the interesting aspects stemming from the lockout is that the Jazz organization - including the team's physicians - have been forbidden from having direct contact with players.
So Keefe has been unable to go to the team for suggestions on the course of action he should take with the injury - even though they obviously have a keen interest and monetary investment in his health. Keefe still has three years remaining on his contract with the Jazz, after all.
He has sought out his own medical advisors but, like the other players, has had to pay for his own insurance since the NBA canceled the players' health plans when lockout began nearly three months ago.
Keefe, who started 75 games and posted career highs in points (7.8 ppg) and rebounds (5.5 rpg) last season, first hurt his foot in February. He continued to play despite nagging pain, however, right on through the NBA Finals.
He was told right from the start that foot injuries take time to heal, but he hoped it wouldn't still be bothering him like it is more than three months after his last game.
"It never really figured itself out," Keefe said. "We were hoping that an injection and some time off would solve the problem, but it didn't."
Keefe has stayed off the foot as much as possible this offseason - which was not an easy thing for him to do.
"It's been difficult for me because I'm an active guy, more so than most of the other players in the league," he said. "I mean, I'm one of those guys who likes to play volleyball, basketball, golf, tennis, go on hikes and run at the beach and so on and I haven't been able to do any of those things. So, it's been frustrating."
Keefe said he's had physical therapy on the foot, sometimes for as long as 31/2 hours per day, with little improvement. He's been able to stay in aerobic shape with low impact activities like cycling and using a Stair Master - not to mention helping to take care of 8-month old twin daughters Caitlin and Michaela. But he knows he's not in "basketball condition" and worries about suffering pulled muscles and other injuries related to his inactivity if he starts training for the season too hard, too quick-ly.
Surgery could end up being the best option for Keefe's foot, but he may wait to see how it reacts when training camp begins. He's not even sure how long the recovery period would be if he opts for the surgery.
Meanwhile, Keefe is cautiously optimistic that an agreement will be met in the labor negotiations in the not-so-distant future. He's hopeful the sides will be able to hold serious discussions when the ruling from arbitrator John Feerick comes down, which is expected early next month. Feerick is deciding on whether the 220 players with guaranteed contracts, like Keefe, should get paid during the lockout.
"I hope this thing comes together fairly quickly after the arbitrator makes his ruling," he said.
Which is a sentiment felt by NBA fans everywhere.