Jason Smith hopes to be cleared to play by training camp

Jason Smith hopes to be cleared to play by training camp

September 6, 2013

Instead of allowing Jason Smith to continue to play through what had become an extremely painful right shoulder injury last season, New Orleans elected to shut down the 7-footer in February, with two more months remaining on the schedule. Smith underwent successful surgery to repair a torn labrum on March 7, a procedure that requires a recovery period of 4-6 months.

Although it forced Smith to miss the final 24 games of 2012-13, he and the Pelicans would love to see that decision pay dividends soon in 2013-14. Three-plus weeks before the start of training camp on Oct. 1, Smith is hopeful that in the near future he’ll be cleared by the team’s medical staff for full participation.

The sixth-year NBA veteran is now able to do just about everything required physically of a basketball player, except he’s not yet cleared for contact, meaning he can’t play in a game. While many of his Pelicans teammates have scrimmaged during voluntary workouts in Metairie this week, Smith has been a 7-foot, 240-pound bundle of energy on the sidelines, desperately wanting to play, but unable to do so.

“I’ve given it the time to rest and recover, put in the work to strengthen it and get back into shape,” Smith said. “My range of motion should be good. As far as (receiving) contact, I think that’ll be the true test. Going through contact down low (in the paint) and seeing how the shoulder reacts to that and whether there is swelling or pain.”

The 27-year-old is encouraged by the progress he’s made, saying that his primary goal is to be available to 100 percent on Day 1 of training camp.

“I hope so,” Smith said. “That’s the best guess right now, because you never know if things will flare up when you hit somebody. You just have to trust your body. That’s all I can do right now, get into the best shape I can and come into training camp with a positive mindset and winning attitude.

“It feels really good. I don’t have the pain I had playing with it (last season). It’s all fixed and better. Knowing that it is better, I have to go out and trust it. I’ve never had an injury like this. I really have to put my faith in the training staff and in communicating with them, to tell them how I feel. I’ve got to trust the shoulder, knowing that I’ve put in the work, and I should be good to go for training camp.”