Cats' Bell may need wrist surgery

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte Bobcats starting shooting guard Raja Bell has a partially torn ligament in his left wrist and will soon decide whether to have surgery which would sideline him up to four months.

The severity of Bell's injury, announced after he sat out Charlotte's 94-87 exhibition win over Milwaukee on Tuesday, is a major blow for the Bobcats, who could be without their best defensive player and team leader.

Bell was injured when his wrist bent awkwardly as he tried to grab a loose ball in Sunday's game against Utah.

"The way I understand it, surgery would be 6-8 [weeks] in a cast with pins and then 6-8 [weeks] worth of rehab," Bell said.

There's a chance Bell could play through the injury by going through a rigorous treatment process, but Bell said he won't decide until he gets a second opinion.

"It's pretty disappointing to me," Bell said. "I was looking forward to coming in and having a good season and being as healthy as I could be to start the season. In that regard, it's a big setback for me personally."

If Bell is lost for a lengthy period, it might be difficult for the Bobcats to improve on last season's 35-47 record and reach the playoffs for the first time. The Bobcats, who acquired Bell in a trade from Phoenix last year, faded from playoff contention when Bell was sidelined with minor injuries late last season.

"I think we're not as discouraged as this thing might sound," coach Larry Brown said. "We'll see what happens in the next few days and then we'll be able to make a better decision on what the prognosis is and what the treatment will be."

The Bobcats started 6-foot D.J. Augustin in Bell's place Tuesday and he scored 15 points. But pairing him in small backcourt with 6-1 point guard Raymond Felton won't always work. The Bobcats would then turn to rookie Gerald Henderson, the 12th pick in the draft, and veteran Flip Murray, who is currently sidelined with a shin injury.

Henderson said he had a similar injury at Duke and decided to wait on the surgery. But Henderson acknowledged the pain was intense and the college season is much shorter.

"It'll be something he'll have to decide on," Henderson said.

Bell immediately had an X-ray on Sunday, which was negative. But tests Tuesday revealed the ligament tear.

"We're going to try to figure out what the best course of action is for me personally," Bell said. "But obviously I've got a responsibility to the Bobcats. You want to find a situation that works for everybody and nobody gets shortchanged."