For Davis Bertāns, the hardest part of recovering from a disagreeable right knee hasn’t been the lonely drills in an otherwise empty gym during more than a month of rehab.
It’s been the five times that the Mavericks have lost when they shot a combined 31 percent from three-point range in those games.
For one of the best pure shooters on the planet, that’s a tough stat to swallow.
“When the team’s playing great and winning, it’s fun to watch, it’s easy to watch,” Bertāns said. “Once the team’s struggling and especially some games struggling from the three-point line, I’m just sitting on the sideline or watching on TV and I’m like: I could definitely help with the shooting.
“The games that the team is struggling a little, those are the ones you are anxious, wanting to be out there.”
That moment when the 6-10 sharpshooter makes his season debut may be happening soon – perhaps in one of the upcoming back-to-back games at American Airlines Center against the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets.
Bertāns on Monday went through his first full practice with the Mavericks since before the preseason began. It was an important step in the process of getting back to full health.
The next step will be to make sure his knee, which has been through two ACL surgeries, got through the Monday workout without any setbacks.
“He did the court work today, he looked great,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow, but I think he’s going in the right direction.
“This was the first court work. Hopefully his body feels great tomorrow (Tuesday) and hopefully soon we can get him in a uniform.”
The Mavericks have a deep team, which is why there was no reason to rush the Latvian forward back into action.
But he’s ready, assuming his knee cooperates from here forward. The Mavericks will welcome him and his career 40-percent three-point shooting with open arms and, hopefully, open looks.
And, Bertāns said, he’s especially eager to get back into playing condition, which he knows will take some time.
“A little tired, the first time being out there with the team – a little winded,” he said after Monday’s workout. “I had a chance to go up and down (Sunday) but a full team practice, this is the first one.”
Nothing in particular happened to his knee to cause the effusion he was suffering from. But when you’ve had two major surgeries on the same knee, stuff happens and it’s got to be dealt with cautiously.
“Every small thing can leave some effect on it,” he said. “Maybe I could have been back a little sooner, but we wanted to be as cautious as possible. We got a deep roster, and we were just making sure this is the only time I miss games this season.”
Bertāns had a busy summer working with the Latvian national team alongside former Mav Kristaps Porzingis, who was traded for his countryman last year in the deal with Washington.
The Latvians did not qualify for this year’s EuroBasket. But they are assured a spot in next summer’s World Cup of Basketball, which Bertāns is looking forward to playing in.
“We got three more games to keep that No. 1 spot in the group,” he said. “That’s a big milestone for us and I’m definitely excited for the upcoming summer.”
One thing he won’t do is talk any trash to teammate Luka Dončić, whose Slovenian team won the EuroBasket in 2017 and is one of the favorites for the World Cup in 2023.
Bertāns knows better than to throw any barbs at the Mavericks’ superstar point guard.
“He has some response for that because we weren’t in the Eurobasket (this year) and the Eurobasket before that, they were the ones that eliminated us in the quarterfinals,” he said. “So you can shoot some shots, but you got to be able to take it back after that.”
For now, Bertāns will just be happy firing shots on the court to help the Mavericks any way he can.