San Antonio point guard Dejounte Murray can relate to the Mavericks’ Kristaps Porzingis.
Murray missed all of last season after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament in a preseason game.
He’s back now, but has been on a minutes restriction. He’s averaging less than 23 minutes per game.
In that respect, he knows exactly what’s going on with Porzingis, who also had a torn ACL and missed a season and two months recovering. In terms of not yet being able to do exactly what he knows he can do on a basketball court, the two could be featured panelists in any seminar on the matter. The process of recovering from a major injury is not easy. Or fast.
“He seems like a player who loves the game,” Murray said at the Spurs’ shootaround Monday morning before playing the Mavericks Monday evening. “I followed him on (social) media to see how he was doing when he was going through his recovery.”
Murray equated it to a “make you or break you” time in an athlete’s life.
“It’s either way,” he said. “To watch a guy work his tail off to get back to elite level and try to go out and produce, it’s a blessing because it gives you motivation. It gave me motivation when he was hurt before me. I agree with what he said, you want it all now.
“But there’s something in the back of your mind you got to realize and understand that it takes time.”
Murray has been eager to be allowed to play more minutes. He’s played between 20 and 26 minutes in 11 games and has been held out twice when the Spurs had back-to-back games.
Porzingis has not had a minutes restriction and has averaged 32 minutes per game. He also was held out of the second half of the Mavericks’ only back-to-back set of games.
“I just can’t wait to be free all the way, but it’s a process,” Murray said. “I sat out a whole year. You’ll always hear me say I want to play. But at the end of the day, they’ve been doing this for a long time.”
The Spurs situation going into the Mavericks’ game doesn’t help. They brought a five-game losing streak into Monday’s game against the Mavericks. And the players know that there’s only so much a coach can do, even one of Gregg Popovich’s stature.
“Yeah, it’s not on Popovich,” Murray said. “It’s not on (assistant coaches) Tim Duncan, Becky Hammon. It’s not on them.
“We lace ‘em up. We get paid to come out and execute a game plan that our coaches give us . . . and produce. We don’t get paid to just laugh or crack jokes.
“You’ll never hear me blame my coaches, even if they were the problem. We’re trying to figure this thing out and move on and get this thing going.”