Andersen takes another step in return from knee surgery

Nuggets forward 'Birdman' cleared for 1-on-1 drills

Birdman is moving closer to rejoining his NBA flock.

Nuggets forward Chris Andersen took another step in his recovery from offseason knee surgery when he participated in light 1-on-1 drills after Denver’s practice Thursday.

Andersen played through knee pain for much last season and had surgery to repair a partially torn right patella tendon in late-May. After several months in the weight room and on the treadmill, he was finally cleared to increase his on-the-court activity.

“It just felt good to get back on the floor and actually compete in some 1-on-1,” Andersen said.

Because of Andersen's enthusiasm and work ethic throughout his rehab, the Nuggets athletic training staff has had to to rein him in for his own good. That was the case again Thursday as head athletic trainer Jim Gillen stopped him after about a half hour of working out with teammates J.R. Smith, Melvin Ely and Shelden Williams.

“Jim intervened and said, ‘Slow it down, take it easy. You’ve done enough today,’ ” Andersen said.

The Nuggets are hoping to have Andersen back in the lineup sometime around Dec. 1, but no timetable has been set.

"I’m glad he’s out there,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “He’s very positive about where he’s at, but I still think there’s some big steps that have to be made before he plays basketball.”

Andersen, who averaged 5.9 points, a career-high 6.4 rebounds and 1.88 blocked shots last season, certainly is not going to jeopardize his long-term healthy by coming back too soon.

“When my knee is good,” Andersen said of a potential return. “It’s almost good. We’ve just got to get back into my rhythm and do some more things with deceleration and lateral movement.”

The Nuggets could use some more size in the frontcourt. Power forward Kenyon Martin is recovering from surgery to repair a torn patella tendon in his left knee, and center Nene is day-to-day with a groin strain, leaving 6-foot-10 Melvin Ely as the only active-roster player taller than 6-9.

Aaron Lopez
Aaron J. Lopez is the primary writer for, providing behind-the-scenes content, including feature stories and video for the site. Before joining the Nuggets in 2009, he spent 15 years covering Colorado sports for the Rocky Mountain News and the Associated Press, making him one of the longest-tenured sports writers in Denver. Aaron's full bio...