Al Harrington Vows to Be Ready for Season Opener
"No doubts,'' the Denver forward said Tuesday about being ready for the Nuggets' Oct. 27 regular-season opener against Utah.
Harrington, who averaged 17.7 points as New York's sixth man last season before signing with Denver as a free agent, suffered a partial tear of his left plantar fascia with less than two minutes gone in the Oct. 9 preseason opener against Portland.
After an MRI was taken the next day, Harrington was ruled out for an estimated two weeks. Harrington hopes to beat that timetable by a day or two by getting into one of Denver's final two preseason games, Thursday at Portland or Friday at Phoenix.
"I really want to play in one of those, so we'll see how it goes,'' Harrington said before Tuesday's preseason game against Oklahoma City at the Pepsi Center. "I'm going to run Wednesday, so we'll see.''
While Harrington vows to be ready for the opener, he isn't expecting then to be at full strength.
"I'll still have some pain,'' he said. "If I'm like 80 (percent), I should be OK.''
Considering Denver will be without big men Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen to start the season as they work back from knee injuries, Harrington is quite important. With that in mind, Nuggets coach George Karl won't risk throwing Harrington into a preseason game if he's not ready.
"I want him back but I also want him healthy,'' said Karl, who isn't counting on Harrington playing huge minutes during the first week or two of the regular season. "I would sacrifice a few days to be healthy.''
The progress of Martin and Andersen, though, has been measured in months after each had surgery early in the offseason. Neither has done any basketball work in training camp.
Karl told a group of Pepsi Center staff members after Tuesday's shootaround Andersen could be back by Dec. 1 and Martin by Jan. 1. However, neither player is putting any timetable on a return.
"There's no dates. Nothing like that,'' said Andersen, who said he tore his right patella last December but continued to play on it throughout the season. "Whenever I feel good, I'll go back out there. (I will return) when I don't have any pain, I don't have any issues and there's no worries in the back of mind that is going to keep me from doing what I do. That's running and jumping and blocking shots and dunking on guys.''
Andersen has been running and lifting weights, and said all is going well despite some expected soreness. But Andersen said playing basketball is completely different, and emphasized it will be his decision when he returns.
"It's not them,'' Andersen said of the Nuggets. "It's me. Once my (knee) starts feeling better, I'll let them know and then move to the basketball court stuff. ... No date. No times. When I feel good. ... I don't want to push it too much and then say, 'OK, I'm ready,' and then get out there and (mess) it up again. So I just want to do it whenever my time is right.''
Martin, who said early in training camp he's in no rush to come back due to being a free agent next summer and with the Nuggets not having given him a contract extension last summer, continued to emphasize Tuesday no timetable has been set for his return. But Martin did at least say more could be known in early November.
"I go back to the doctor probably in a few weeks,'' Martin said of Dr. Richard Steadman, a Vail, Colo., specialist who did Martin's surgery for a torn left patella. "We'll see.''
At least Harrington believes there's no doubt when it comes to when he will return. He's expected to suit up Oct. 27 for his fifth team in six seasons.
Afflalo Seeks Return
You can sign me now or you can sign me later.
That's the thinking of Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo, who will become a restricted free agent next summer if he's not signed to an extension by the Nov. 1 deadline.
Afflalo said he knows of nothing being close regarding an offer being made by the Nuggets. But even if the deadline passes without anything getting done, he expects to re-sign next summer with Denver.
"Not that I know of, not right now,'' Afflalo said of the Nuggets having made any offer to his agent, Sam Goldfeder, who did not immediately return a message. "It would be nice (to sign an extension by Nov. 1). I love Denver. I love the situation so I'd rather it happen now than later. I'm sure it (signing at some point with the Nuggets) will happen.''
At least one Denver 20-point scorer wants to return. Afflalo is surprisingly averaging 20.6 points in the preseason, trailing only team leader Carmelo Anthony's 24.3. Anthony, who is unwilling so far to sign a three-year, $64.47 million contract extension offer that is on the table, can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson