Jalen Brunson’s right shoulder popped out of place on Feb. 22 in the first 10 seconds of the game at Atlanta.
The damage done was enough that Brunson said Wednesday that it’s “definitely a possibility” that he’ll require surgery in the offseason.
But before that, he’s taking dead aim at getting back into game action as soon as possible, although he’s not sure when that will be.
“I am progressing,” the 6-3 guard said before Wednesday’s game. “To be honest, I don’t really have a good timetable. I’m definitely feeling better, making progress. I’ve been on the court the past couple days, been able to shoot a little bit. I haven’t done any contact stuff yet, but I definitely feel a little bit of progression.”
Getting to the point that he can shoot is important, obviously. But since he’s lefthanded, his natural shot isn’t impacted by the injury. But he said he just started on Wednesday working on drives while finishing with his right hand.
“There’s still a little soreness, a little pain, but the pain now compared to 10, 11 days ago, it definitely feels a lot better,” Brunson said. “It’s just a matter of trusting it (finishing with his right hand) and not being afraid to actually do it. Last week, I couldn’t lift it at all to get to the rim.”
The Mavericks have missed Brunson’s contributions since his injury came on a play when he converted a layup but was shoved to the court by Atlanta’s John Collins. The play was not reviewed by the officiating crew.
Brunson averaged 8.2 points and 3.3 assists in 18 minutes per game before the injury. He also has hit 35.8 percent of his 3-pointers this season.
“There’s no specific timetable,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s going to be a week-to-week thing in my view. That’s how it’s been presented to me. He’s back on the floor running and shooting, which is a great sign. But there’s nothing imminent.”
Brunson said the key to his rehab at the moment is to get the muscles in the shoulder area stronger.
“I’m just trying to get it as healthy as possible to where I feel comfortable,” he said. “There’s going to be pain, stuff that hurts a little bit. But getting to where I’m comfortable enough to play.”
As for having to have the labrum fixed during the summer, he said: “It depends on how this rehab goes. But that’s definitely a possibility. Just trying to get it as healthy as possible and then, try to get back. And whenever the season ends, we’ll go from there.”
Keeping us posted: Kristaps Porzingis has been on a sizzling run lately and part of his production has come because of more frequent post-up opportunities.
He’s still most effective on the perimeter and in pick-and-roll situations. But he’s proving that he hasn’t abandoned the post-up game.
“We play such a random style that when he gets in there, what we love are paint catches and quick attacks,” Carlisle said. “He’s done a great job of getting it in those situations and either attacking quickly and if there isn’t anything there he’ll re-space.
“His spacing is something that’s unreplaceable. The post-ups, sometimes they come later in the clock, which is fine and he’s been really good on them in recent games, which is great to see.”
Porzingis’ efficiency in the post and pretty much everywhere else on the court is a major reason why he was chosen as the Western Conference player of the week last week.
“I’m really just extraordinarily pleased for him,” Carlisle said. “I have a great deal of respect for the amount of work he’s put in for two-plus years now. And he’s remained patient. Things were very up and down early on. The player of the week is just a really nice validation for all the work and everything that he’s done.”
Staying prepared: Like all NBA teams, the Mavericks have been briefed by the league on the best ways to steer clear of the coronavirus. They had a team meeting about the fast-spreading virus on their four-game road trip that ended Monday in Chicago.
“The NBA has done a great job of providing information and it’s our job to communicate that stuff to our players because education of this is one of the most important things to understanding it and preventing it,” Carlisle said.