Jusuf Nurkic Plans To Return On March 15

Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic intends to make his return to the court on March 15 against Houston, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). Nurkic will be making his comeback nearly a year after suffering the devastating leg injuries that sidelined him for the end of the 2018/19 season and most of the 2019/20 campaign.

“I’m ready to help my team make the playoffs,” Nurkic told Haynes. “It’s time.”

Nurkic suffered compound fractures in his left tibia and fibula on March 25, 2019 against Brooklyn and has been working his way back since then. The Blazers never offered a concrete timeline for when he might return, but reports earlier in the season suggested it might happen around the All-Star break.

Although Nurkic didn’t hit that unofficial target, having reportedly strained his calf when he returned to practice in January, he remains on track to make it back well before the end of the regular season. Last week, the big man talked about needing more practice time to get up to speed — it sounds like that will happen before next Sunday.

A March 15 return would line up Nurkic to play in some or all of Portland’s remaining 15 games, though it remains to be seen how big a role he’ll have. In his conversation with Haynes, he acknowledged that getting used to the speed of NBA games will be a challenge after his year-long layoff.

“I’m not going to be playing 40 minutes,” Nurkic said. “But for me, mentally, I need to get these reps in before I can play (extended minutes). Physically, I’m good. I had a calf strain recently, which is normal for the injury I had. I’ve been pleased with where my rehab is going. I never doubted I’d be back, but I had to make sure I was 100 percent. I can’t wait for (March 15).”

Nurkic was having the best season of his NBA career in 2018/19 before the injury, averaging 15.6 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 3.2 APG, and 1.4 BPG in 72 games (27.4 MPG). This year, Hassan Whiteside has taken over starting center duties for the Blazers and leads the league with 3.1 BPG. Nurkic’s comments to Haynes suggest he’s willing to take a back seat to Whiteside in the season’s final month if it helps the team win.

“He’s my teammate,” Nurkic said. “I don’t know the plans going forward, but my mind is on how I’m going to help this team make the playoffs. We just need to sacrifice our games for the team’s good, do the little things that don’t show on the stat sheet and put our games together for possibly the playoffs. We have a chance, and when you have a chance, you’ve got to go get it.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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12 thoughts on “Jusuf Nurkic Plans To Return On March 15

  1. #1BrandonIngramFan

    He changes their entire team chemistry, glad he’s coming back early. Hopefully no more severe injuries as they can be detrimental to a talented big man, and next season they can hit back. Gotta make some off-season moves, though.

  2. harden-westbrook-mvps

    It would be hilarious if they can get the #8 seed then knock out the Lakers in the first round. Although probably not so funny to the fans in LA.

  3. Major Factuh

    Usually don’t give you a hard time HWM, but my gosh, what happened last night?

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      I wish I knew the answer to that question. Houston played so well in their first 3 games against the Clippers before embarrassing themselves in front of a national audience. I can only hope they play a lot better in LA next week against the Lakers.

  4. El Don

    Whiteside is better than Nurkic & much less injury prone, the only thing going for Nurkic is that he is younger… but with all the injuries I’d try keeping Whiteside in the summer & trade Nurkic for some help in the wing.

    • yoyo137

      In no way at all is Whiteside a better option moving forward than Nurkic. Speak on your own team because that is simply not even on the table for the Blazers.

      • El Don

        Many thanks for your kindness, next time I will make sure to check with you if I have the right to have my own opinion, how ’bout that man? We cool!

        • yoyo137

          You said Whiteside is better than Nurkic. You do not watch Blazers games and thus are not entitled to have an opinion on them. So that sounds good, make sure you check with me next time

      • harden-westbrook-mvps

        The Blazers look way better with Nurkic in their lineup than they do with Whiteside, and it’s not even close.

        • x%sure

          Well before Nurkic got injured Portland looked optimal. Aminu, Layman & Harkless helped a group effort rather then the Blazers trying to put something together.
          Not sure Nurkic would look as good now. It would be a guess as I’m not attracted to follow.
          Whiteside may be better in a more solo setup like now, but they’re less optimal. Lilliard has to go nuts shooting.

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