Gallinari upbeat as Nuggets go through first practice of camp

Denver forward happy with progress of injured knee but no timetable for return
by Aaron Lopez

Though he remains out indefinitely while recovering from a knee injury, Danilo Gallinari felt like part of the team again as the Denver Nuggets opened training camp Tuesday.

Gallinari, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee nearly six months ago, joined his teammates in the locker room and observed intently on the practice court as Denver went to work under first-year coach Brian Shaw.

“If you’ve ever been injured, you get a feeling that you’re not really part of the team, and I don’t want that to be the case,” Shaw said. “As much as he can get involved, whether it’s passing the ball to his teammates or asking questions to the coaches, I want him to feel like he’s involved so he can be up to speed once he’s able to play.”

There’s no timetable for Gallinari’s return, but he reported no setbacks with his knee and hopes to start running soon. He spent the summer doing his rehabilitation in his native Italy and in Denver.

“Spending seven to eight hours in the gym every day is not easy,” Gallinari said. “It’s not fun all the time, especially when you cannot play basketball. But that’s what it takes to get back and get back stronger than before.”

Gallinari averaged 16.2 points and led the Nuggets with 135 3-pointers before he was injured while driving to the basket on April 4.

Shaw and the Nuggets want him to make a full recovery and are not putting a timeline on his return. Though optimistic about his progress, Gallinari is taking the same approach.

“Everything is going very well,” he said. “The knee is responding very well to the treatment we are giving it … In these cases, you have to wait and see what the knee tells you every day.”

Though he’s not able to get on the court, Gallinari is in the same boat as many of his teammates in terms of adjusting to a new coaching staff.

Shaw wants to continue to take advantage of Denver’s altitude by pushing the tempo, but he also has to implement new offensive and defensive systems. That comes with new terminology and points of emphasis.

“It was just the first day,” Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson said. “You have to get your base before you start building on top. He’s just building it from the bottom up.”

All in all, Shaw said he was happy with his first day as an NBA head coach.

“It was a typical first practice,” he said. “Guys got tired at the end and it got a little sloppy. But overall, I was happy with what we able to accomplish on this first day.”