Trail Blazers remain cautious with Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins

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As the season grows older, the anticipation of the Trail Blazers injured big men returning to the court grows with it. 

Here's what we know: Jusuf Nurkic is back practicing, but after a minor setback to his right calf, his season debut is still unknown. Zach Collins is doing individual workouts and shooting pregame, but he remains on the bench in a suit. 

The Trail Blazers have been reluctant to put a return date for Jusuf Nurkic all season long and they remain steadfast in that approach. 

"We are not going to rush Nurk back," Olshey told Trail Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes in an exclusive interview. "We're being conservative in his return."

Bosnian Beast's homecoming would certainly give Portland a much-needed boost. With Nurkic in the lineup in 2018-19, the Trail Blazers went 45-27. He was averaging 15.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.4 blocks for the Blazers before suffering a fractured leg last March.

So, how soon could we see Bosnian Beast in game action? Olshey says it depends on Nurk's rehab and recovery.

"With Nurk, everything is kind of day-to-day," Olshey said. "The biggest thing is when he starts competing 3-on-3, 4-on-4, 5-on-5, when we have enough healthy bodies to practice, we can get a read for where he is in terms of how he can simulate game minutes and how he feels after that. So, it's not just about getting through the practice, it's what are the reoccurring themes for the PT guys as far as where he is, what his recovery is. What we don't want to do is bring him back and have him in and out of the lineup."

While Olshey admits Nurkic is closer to his return than forward Zach Collins, he didn't rule out the possibility that Collins could also see the Moda Center floor this season. Collins had surgery to repair his left labrum in November and was recently seen getting some work in after practice.

"If an opportunity comes for Zach to be a 110 percent healthy and risk-free, then we'll probably bring Zach back, as well," Olshey said. "If there's any chance that there's a reoccurrence for his injury, we won't."

The good news is the Trail Blazers still have an insurance policy in Hassan Whiteside. Portland opted not to move the 30-year-old center at the NBA trade deadline Thursday and Whiteside has been on a tear as of late. He leads the league in blocked shots, shooting 60.9 percent from the field and is the only legitimate center on the Trail Blazers' active roster.

While the Blazers need Collins and Nurkic back on the court to help make a run at the playoffs, it won't come at their long-term health. 

Trail Blazers remain cautious with Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest