Injury Update: Clippers Inch Closer To Rookie Brice Johnson’s Return

Injury Update: Clippers Inch Closer To Rookie Brice Johnson’s Return

Manager, Web Strategy

LOS ANGELES – Rookie Brice Johnson isn’t fully cleared yet from a preseason herniated disc in his back, but Friday was a step in the right direction.

Johnson scrimmaged with the Clippers at practice for the first time since training camp, subbing in when the regulars needed rest.

“I’ve just got to get back in the rhythm of things,” Johnson said. “It’s been forever, been like three months.”

When the Clippers drafted Johnson No. 25 overall before the season, they hoped to watch him throw down plenty of dunks. They at least got to see that happen Friday, and Johnson said he felt fine afterward.

“I kind of felt I was a little scared to do it at the time, but then again I was like, ‘Just try,’” Johnson said. “So I just…I tried it.”

It worked, drawing plenty of admiration from his teammates.

Johnson still hasn’t heard a specific timetable for when he can return, and he said his back still isn’t 100 percent, but it’s a positive development after three months of not being able to do much at all.

“I still have a little discomfort moving certain ways, but I think it’s more of me just (needing) to get back in shape more than anything,” Johnson said. “It’s not pain in my back, it’s more of, I’ve just got to get back in shape. That’s what hurts the most right now.”

Johnson said he’s doing everything full speed, but still being eased along. He wasn’t a full participant at the scrimmage, but he knows he may be able to do a little more every time he takes the court.

“They just want to see what I can do and see how I recover from it,” Johnson said. “I think that’s the biggest thing right now, see how I recover from it, see if I have any pain afterward, see if anything flares up again.”

So far, so good.

“It’s really nice to see him out on the floor,” said head coach Doc Rivers.

When Johnson does return, a decision has to be made on his next destination. Rivers said last week the Clippers haven’t decided if he’ll head to the D-League or stay in-house and continue developing in the gym.

Johnson said he just doesn’t want to mess up any routine he has with the training staff.

“I think they’ll talk about it,” Johnson said. “I have no clue what they’re going to do, but as of now I’ll be here just working with the training staff and strength coach and stuff. I’m progressing every day, starting to get a little heavier and heavier in weight.”

And as Johnson continues to improve, there was another positive health development a day later, as Blake Griffin put on shots and ran on the court before the Clippers played the Lakers.

Griffin is three and a half weeks into a four-to-six-week timetable for recovery from a Dec. 20 right knee procedure, and he remains on track to return within that timeframe.