Nuggets Taking Wait-And-See Approach With Jamal Murray

The Nuggets have survived almost an entire regular season without Jamal Murray, but they’re still holding onto hope that he might return sometime during the playoffs, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Murray participated in a workout with his teammates prior to Wednesday’s game at Indiana, moving freely and getting up his normal shots. Coach Michael Malone told Singer that the team is keeping “all options on the table” regarding Murray as it prepares for the postseason.

Malone admits it’s a “weird time” to try to work Murray back into the lineup with the season winding down, adding that he has put “zero pressure” on his star guard about his return since his ACL surgery last April. However, if he decides he wants to play, the Nuggets will accommodate that request.

“But if Jamal Murray says to me, ‘Hey coach, I’m ready, man, I’d like to play,’ and he’s been cleared, then we’d figure it out,” Malone said. “I think, like anybody coming back, there are good days, there are great days, and there are some tough days. I think that’s kind of what he’s been dealing with probably the last month as he’s ramped up a little bit. And certain days I’m sure he feels great, and the next day he might feel like, ‘Man, I don’t know if I can do this.’ The biggest part for him, right now, is the confidence to go out there and be able to play without thinking about everything he’s doing. That’s the hardest thing when you’ve been away from the game for almost a year like he has been.”

After watching Murray on Wednesday, Singer concluded it was one of his “good days.” He was able to curl and drive to the basket without any evidence of discomfort and occasionally gave a nod to trainers or team officials to show he was feeling good.

Murray also took part in strength training and stretching before the game, then came to the court with two wraps on each knee. He removed those as he moved into drills against the player development staff that included “hard cuts and strenuous pivots” and he didn’t shy away from contact, according to Singer.

Murray’s return could be a difference-maker for a Denver team that has tried all season to find suitable replacements in the backcourt. There have been conflicting reports about his chances to come back in time for the playoffs, and Malone said the team is keeping its options open.

“I don’t think it makes any sense to (say) … ‘We’re shutting him down,’” he said. “Who knows where the season’s going to go? A lot of crazy things can happen with (five) games to go, as well as into the postseason. Now with the play-in, the regular season ends and there’s a week for the play-in, then the playoffs start. It used to be, the season ended and playoffs started right away.

“I don’t think we need to paint ourselves into a corner and make any definitive decisions right now because this is not a mile race where it’s four laps and it’s over. We have no idea where the finish line is. Until we have a better idea of that, let’s leave all options on the table and see what happens on a day-to-day basis.”

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