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Copeland Back on Court, Ahead of Schedule

by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness

September 6, 2013

Offseason addition Chris Copeland has already begun to make Indianapolis his home. After one season in New York, he signed with the Pacers on July 14. Less than three weeks later, he opted to have his left knee cleaned up to remove a loose body, but the team stated then that they expected him to be ready for training camp come Sept. 28.

Just over a month removed from that procedure, Copeland is back on the floor playing 5-on-5 with no hesitations.

"I’m still a rehab patient, somebody [reminded] me today," Copeland said while up in Clay Terrace to attend the grand opening of St. Vincent Sports Performance’s new training facility. It was his first public appearance to sign autographs and take pictures with Pacers fans.

"I’m getting back, getting my legs under me, doing a lot of rehab stuff trying to get stronger. I’m hitting the floor. This is my first week actually playing, getting up and down some. Obviously, I’m not 100 percent. I’m not going to lie to you. But I can play. I’m getting up and down and the fact that I can actually play and get on the floor is good enough for me at this point."

When training camp commences in almost three weeks, Copeland doesn’t anticipate the injury slowing him down. He also noted that he’s ahead of schedule, and that’s a key phrase that Pacers officials and fans alike want to hear. Still, when surgery is performed, albeit arthroscopic, there is reason for pause.

"It’s not a major thing," Copeland explained last month. "I had something removed and now my knee feels so much better. It was more of a nuisance than an actual injury."

Remaining in Indianapolis for rehabilitation may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the 29-year-old. He was one of the first players to meet – and work with – the new assistant coaches, Nate McMillan and Popeye Jones.

"They’re two legends in the game and so I’m trying to grab as much information as I can," he said. "A lot of insight from Pop and shooting stuff from Nate."

Familiarizing himself with the Pacers staff and surroundings should only aid in Copeland's transition to a new team. He's also spent countless hours in the training room and practice floor talking with Danny Granger, the longest-tenured player on the Pacers roster.

"Danny’s been big for me, helping me understand what the culture is here,” Copeland said. “He’s been around and he’s done an amazing job in this league and I’m learning at this point."

Like Copeland, Granger is also receiving treatment for his left knee. However, Granger’s injury was much more severe and, at this point, his future and how he can contribute is unclear. The fact that he scrimmaged with teammates this week is a positive indicator.

"He’s back on the floor as well," Copeland said of Granger. "He’s not 100 percent, but he’s looking great."

Much of the team has already returned to Indy and been back in Bankers Life Fieldhouse for workouts in preparation for the season, which begins with a pre-season game on Oct. 5 against division-rival Chicago. Those in town include: Copeland, Granger, George Hill, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, C.J. Watson, Orlando Johnson, and rookie Solomon Hill.

"A lot of guys are coming in early, definitely showing their dedication to winning here," Copeland added. "It’s definitely growing the chemistry. We’re getting a chance to workout together, be around each other, and it’s helping me get acclimated quickly."

"It’s gonna be a great year. I think we’re a really, really deep team and I’m learning a lot from the guys already."

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