Jazz shooting guard Alec Burks hopes to return to the court this week for the first time since December, according to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Burks, who underwent surgery in early January for a broken fibula, is hoping to be ready Tuesday. Although he will probably be under a minutes limitation, Burks will be a welcome addition for Utah, which is in a battle to make the playoffs. In a sixth-man role, Burks was averaging 14.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game before the injury. “There’s a jump between being OK and healed and being able to compete at a high level,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said in explaining why the team is being cautious with Burks.
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- Nuggets combo forward Danilo Gallinari is happy with the progress on his injured right ankle, but he tells Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post that he doesn’t plan to play again this season. With Denver far out of the playoff race, there’s little reason for Gallinari to take risks with the injury. “We’re not fighting for anything right now,” he explained. “As a player, it’s one of the worst feelings ever because if you’re not fighting for anything, it’s even tougher to find the motivation to play a game.” Gallinari hasn’t played since February 26th after tearing two lateral ligaments in the ankle and spraining another.
- Greg Smith has quickly earned a spot in the Wolves‘ rotation because of his ability to play center and power forward, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Smith, who recently signed for the remainder of the season, had to overcome knee surgery and a two-month stint in the D-League to earn his way back into the NBA. “I know my role, I know my game,” he said. “I know what they want from me.”
- The Thunder’s ongoing verbal war with the Pistons has intensified, according to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. The dispute started when Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant blasted former teammate Reggie Jackson for an exuberant celebration after Detroit’s win over Oklahoma City this week. Pistons rookie Stanley Johnson is the latest to join the fray, saying Durant shouldn’t have skipped the contest if he was concerned about the outcome. “If he wanted to have an impact on the game, he should have just played,” Johnson said. “No one is scared of playing against him on this side of town.”