DENVER — Tuesday marks the anniversary of Jamal Murray tearing his left ACL, and the Denver Nuggets say it’s still up to their star point guard if he’ll be ready to return for the playoffs or if he’ll wait until next season.
For several weeks Murray has been putting on a show at practice and in pregame warm-ups, but he’s still not confident in his surgically repaired knee he injured last April 12.
« Obviously, he’s not there yet, » coach Michael Malone said before tipoff of the team’s regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night. « That’s a real big mental hurdle to make. … He has good days and he has days that are not as good. And that’s been very challenging for him mentally. »
Malone said the organization will continue to leave it up to Murray to decide when he’s ready to return to the lineup « whether that’s in the playoffs or that’s next season. »
Fans attending the game Sunday night were hopeful that they’d see Murray knocking off the rust in a low-intensity game against the Lakers, who are without their star, LeBron James (ankle).
Despite dunking a few times at practice Saturday, when he was in a jovial mood, and sitting down with Malone for an extended chat, Murray was ruled out of Sunday night’s game.
« You see him out there dunking the ball and I’m sure you guys are thinking, ‘He looks really good,' » Malone told reporters. « But from Day 1, from the bus ride from the San Francisco hotel to the airport when he had just suffered the injury the night before, [we told him] there’s going to be no rush, there’s going to be no pressure. And that continues to this day. »
Recently, reigning MVP Nikola Jokic said he admonished Murray not to return to action if he’s not 100 percent both mentally and physically because it wouldn’t make sense to rush back and risk getting hurt again.