MEXICO CITY — Rehabbing point guard D’Angelo Russell accompanied the Nets on their trip to Mexico City to face the Thunder Thursday night and the Heat on Saturday night, but he’s strictly a “turista.”
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said Russell has not yet begun running and there is no timetable for his return following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Nov. 17. “I know he was working with our performance group today, working on his core strength, hamstring strength,” Atkinson said Wednesday after practice, “but it’s hard for me to put a stage on it.”
Although he won’t be involved in the action, Russell was a popular interview target for the Mexico City media, and he delighted them by recognizing the name of Mexican national Jorge Gutierrez, who had a 47-game NBA career with the Nets, Bucks and Hornets.
“Gutierrez?” Russell said. “He went to Cal. Yeah, he’s good.”
But when asked what stage his rehab has reached, Russell was less certain. “I don’t know how to answer that,” he said. “I can say it’s been going well. Every day has been a grind. I’d rather be back sooner than later. Whatever the outcome is, it’s a day to day process.
“I’m doing a lot of stuff. I’m in the weight room. If I’m running one day, I may be walking the next. It’s all a plan.”
Asked to clarify his comment about “running” and whether he actually has jogged a bit, Russell said, “I’ve done a lot of things to test it. A full-out sprint, I’m two weeks out of surgery, so I don’t think that would be the smartest thing to do. But there’s been other ways to test it . . . hamstrings, glutes, core, multiple things.”
Russell explained that it’s not merely a matter of being able to run before he can return. “A basketball game isn’t just running,” Russell said. “It’s stopping, going, twisting, turning. A lot of things that go into that. When I’m up to par with that is when I’ll be ready.”
While Russell is disappointed to be injured, he added, “hopefully, we can come down here and take care of business. It’s a chance for a lot of guys to step up and play well. My time will come.”