PHOENIX – Apparently, this has been going on for a while now.
Jusuf Nurkic was on the floor of the practice gym in Talking Stick Resort Arena Saturday afternoon, spinning, jab-stepping, jumping, dribbling, shooting and looking for all the world like a man healthy enough to play NBA basketball.
Which, of course, he isn't. Nurkic, after a workout that left him drenched in sweat, pronounced himself "right where I want to be" and "pain-free."
Pressed, he put his readiness at "60 percent." Nurkic has been sidelined since last March 25 ,after suffering compound fractures in his left tibia and fibula that required surgery.
It was originally estimated he could be out of action for a year and then the talk was that he could be ready to return to a Trail Blazer uniform by the All-Star break in February. But he raised the hopes of Portland fans when he was shown on video shooting free throws prior to Tuesday's game in Moda vs. the Knicks and then shown again on video running the stairs in Denver's Pepsi Center before Thursday's game with the Nuggets.
The team made him available for interviews after the Blazers' practice Saturday afternoon and seemingly showcased his workout for the media – because we see only what they want us to see of their practices.
The franchise has refused to put a timetable on his return to active duty and Nurkic dodged all those questions, as did his coach. But it was made clear that he has been doing more work on the court than previously thought.
"He's been doing a lot of stuff," Coach Terry Stotts said. "This is the first time you've gotten to see it. He's been doing things similar to this. Today wasn't anything new from our standpoint. You just haven't seen it.
"I think we're all encouraged by the progress he's made."
And the 7-foot center made it a point that every day is not like the heavy workout we saw Saturday.
"If I was doing this every day, I probably would have played already," he said.
But during an interview that stretched longer than what the team may have expected, Nurkic refused to dig deeply into what he's been doing and what his schedule will be, moving forward.
"I can't tell you everything," he said with a smile.
Listen to this week's Talkin' Blazers podcast here: