WILMINGTON - Next time, Melvin Ely will fall on the ball the way he was taught.
Ely tried to pick up a loose ball in Charlotte Bobcats practice Wednesday, rather than hit the floor and smother it. That could have cost his season, as he stumbled and teammate Othella Harrington fell on his left leg. Ely's knee twisted and he had to wait in suspense Thursday while a magnetic resonance imaging test was analyzed.
Good news: Ely, a power forward/center, has a knee strain and the MRI indicated no torn ligaments that would require surgery. Ely will sit out Sunday's intra-squad scrimmage at UNC Wilmington's Trask Coliseum, but hopes to start practicing again Monday in Charlotte.
Not that knee surgery would ever be opportune, but Ely really couldn't afford to miss this season. He's on a one-year contract, becoming an unrestricted free agent after this season. He's already fighting for playing time among a crowd of seven big men on the Bobcats' roster.
That would've been a bad way to start the year. Okafor, Anderson, Wallace and Brezec also missed a day of practice this week. Hopefully this doesn't become a trend for the upcoming season.