Denton: Harrington Close to Returning

By John Denton
February 1, 2013

BOSTON – The Orlando Magic will once again be without Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis for an extended period of time, but help might soon be on the way in the form of veteran forward Al Harrington.

Harrington, who has yet to play this season for the Magic after having arthroscopic knee surgery and three subsequent procedures to clean out a staph infection, vowed on Friday that he is close to making his 2012-13 debut for Orlando.

Harrington, who will turn 33 later this month, has been steadily increasing the intensity of his workouts in hopes of getting back on the floor as soon as possible for the Magic. He started playing three-on-three pick-up games three weeks ago and he’s since worked his way into practice sessions with the Magic.

Harrington said on Friday from Boston that he was unsure about his exact return date, but he’s closer now than he has been at any point.

``I’ve only had a chance to go through two hard practices where I went full speed and I feel good. I feel like I’m really close now,’’ said Harrington, a 15-year NBA veteran. ``I’m just going to keep working and rehabbing. I feel like there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not exactly sure when I’ll get to go out there, but I feel like it should be soon.’’

Because he can play both small forward and power forward, Harrington might be the perfect answer for a Magic team that is without small forward Arron Afflalo and Davis, a power forward. Afflalo did not go through Orlando’s morning shootaround because of lingering pain in his strained left calf and he most likely won’t play tonight when the Magic (14-31) face the Celtics (22-23).

As for Davis, he was scheduled to undergo surgery on Friday in Orlando to have a screw inserted into his foot after breaking the fifth metatarsal in Wednesday’s loss to the New York Knicks. The injury occurred early in the game on a transition play, and while Davis tried to run back up the floor, he couldn’t continue playing. He is expected to miss eight-to-10 weeks following the surgery.

``I’m going to check on him after shootaround to make sure he’s doing OK,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said of the text messages he had exchanged with Davis. ``He’s going to be OK. It’s just unfortunate for him.’’

It’s the second time this season Davis suffered a serious injury. He severely sprained his left shoulder on Dec. 19 and missed 11 straight games – the first 10 of which the Magic dropped. He returned to play nine games before fracturing his left foot.

Harrington has endured an ACL tear and back surgery during his extensive NBA career, but he said the fallout from the staph infection in his knee has been the most troublesome injury of all. The uncertainty of when he could return, when he could push the knee bothered him greatly.

``There’s really no protocol for this,’’ Harrington said of returning following a staph infection. ``You know when you have an ACL (tear) or a back (surgery) that it’s eight weeks or whatever. But when you are dealing with an infection it just depends on how your body responds and how your bone responds. It’s definitely the toughest one I’ve been through, for sure.’’

Harrington said it’s been a long process learning to convince his mind that his knee is sound enough to push while he’s out on the court. He’s gone from jogging to cutting, from jumping off two legs to jumping off just the right knee and from playing one-on-one to three-on-three to full practices.

``When you run and don’t think about it you are fine. But when you are at that moment when you wonder, `How am I feeling?’ That’s when you may feel something,’’ Harrington said. ``But when my instincts take over, that’s when I feel pretty good.

``Every workout that I do, that’s what I’m always saying,’’ Harrington continued, referring to his trust issues with his knee. ``I may make a move or two where I feel a little bite or something, but I keep saying to myself, `You’re healthy now, you’re healthy now.’ It’s like a song that’s playing in my head. It’s just part of the process. There’s no way that I can just get out there and say, `I’m back.’ It’s a process.’’

For his career, Harrington has averaged 13.8 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 44.6 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent from 3-point range. He’s played for Indiana (twice), Atlanta, Golden State, New York and Denver, and came to the Magic in the four-team, 12-player blockbuster deal last August.

Travelling with the Magic on the last three road trips has helped him build some chemistry with his new teammates and finally feel a part of the Magic.

``I finally feel like I’m part of it. It’s always good to get on the road and have that team camaraderie,’’ Harrington said. ``I always feel like my team is my extended family and when I wasn’t around, it was weird. But now with these guys they are a lot of great guys. We’ve been doing a lot of dinners and building some great relationships.’’

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