Manning Probably Has Tear : More Tests Needed to Determine Next Step for Rookie

Times Staff Writer

The worst-case scenario for Danny Manning and the Clippers moved closer to reality Tuesday, when team physician Tony Daly announced he is 95% certain that the rookie forward has torn a ligament in his right knee.

A serious or partial tear would most likely mean major reconstructive surgery and a rehabilitation period that could last 1 1/2 years. If surgery is deemed necessary, Manning could be lost to the Clippers for the rest of this season and all of 1989-90.

“If it’s a high school or college kid, you’d rehabilitate it for 6 to 8 weeks and it could never be a problem again,” said Glen Almquist, a noted sports physician from Orange. “But in the pro level, the doctors have been forced to repair it because of the liability and the fact they play every day. Chances of further injury are very high.

“Even if it’s torn a little bit, it will probably have to be augmented and he would be out for at least 1 year.”


A determination on what to do next is expected today in a meeting with Clipper owner Donald T. Sterling, General Manager Elgin Baylor and Manning’s agent, Ron Grinker. Most likely, an arthroscopy will be performed to determine the severity of the tear before reconstructive surgery, but Grinker has stated that he does not want Daly to perform either surgery. Daly could not be reached late Tuesday night.

Manning injured his anterior cruciate ligament, regarded as one of the most serious setbacks for a basketball player, while planting his right leg for takeoff on a layup in the first quarter of last Wednesday night’s game at Milwaukee. He was first diagnosed as having a hyper-extended knee, but the condition was revised after more tests were taken by Daly in Los Angeles.

The long-term loss of Manning, the No. 1 pick in the National Basketball Assn. draft who has a 5-year contract worth $10.5 million, would be devastating to the Clippers. Since Manning has been out, the Clippers have lost 3 games by at least 30 points each. The team, which has lost 6 straight, plays the Sacramento Kings tonight in the Sports Arena.

Though Manning is a rookie, much of the Clippers’ offense revolved around him. His versatility allowed Coach Gene Shue to use him as a point guard to bring the ball upcourt and then switch to the post for inside play.

“If that, in fact, is a tear, it’s a hard injury to play complete again with, and I feel bad for Danny about that,” Shue said. “But it’s also a blow to the team, and I feel bad about that.

“We have to regroup. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be very hard.”

Times staff writer Elliott Almond contributed to this story.