Harrington remains optimistic after foot injury

Nuggets forward expected to be out at least two weeks

Al Harrington wore a walking boot and a smile.

In this case, pain was a good thing.

The Nuggets power forward was in good spirits Sunday, less than 48 hours after suffering a partial tear of the plantar fascia in his left foot. Harrington had been dealing with a troublesome strain throughout training camp.

“They (the team’s training staff) said it’s going to be a good thing,” Harrington said. “When you have a strain, it’s a nagging thing. But when you tear it, it gives it a chance for the fascia to rebuild and you should be pain-free after that. I’m looking forward to being pain-free.

“It’s a relief. It was one of those things that you were hoping would happen. I wish it would’ve happened before camp. It’s cool that it happened now and it will still give me a little bit of time before the season starts.”

Harrington’s injury could take two or three weeks to heal, leaving his status for the Oct. 27 season-opener in question. He called himself a fast healer and remains optimistic about being ready in time to make his debut against the Utah Jazz.

“I’m shooting for the home opener. I think I should be able to get back for that,” he said. “It’s according to how my pain feels. Right now it hurts, but hopefully in like a week or so, it’ll get better. I’ll get on the (stationary) bike maybe in the next couple days and work my way back.”

When healthy, Harrington gives coach George Karl something he hasn’t had in the five-plus years he’s been in Denver – a big man who can shoot from the perimeter and extend the defense.

“I think we all were kind of excited with what was happening with him. Now we just have to be patient,” Karl said. “We still have time to fit him in, make it work.”

While Harrington recovers, look for Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams to get more playing time in Denver’s final seven preseason games. Training camp invitees Eric Boateng and Melvin Ely also could get an extended look.

Balkman didn’t miss a shot and had three rebounds, two assists and two steals in Friday night’s preseason win over Portland, while Williams replaced Harrington just 79 seconds into the game and finished with 21 points and 14 boards.

Contact Aaron J. Lopez at alopez@pepsicenter.com