Gallinari continues along comeback trail

by Aaron Lopez

Four months removed from knee surgery, Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari is moving without restriction as he works out in the weight room and on the Pepsi Center practice court.

Starting next week, his offseason conditioning program will continue in his native Italy as he gets physically and mentally prepared for a highly anticipated return to the NBA.

“I’m doing vey well,” Gallinari said after his workout Thursday. “I’m able to go back to Italy and do everything I want. I can play a little basketball and come back ready for training camp.”

It’s been a long journey for Gallinari, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on April 4, 2013. He sat out the 2013-14 season but has been diligent in his recovery program.

Since January, Gallinari has trained under the direct guidance of Denver’s strength-and-conditioning staff, the athletic training staff and physical therapy staff. On Thursday, he was on the court for the first time with Nuggets assistant Melvin Hunt.

“We as a staff feel Gallo’s given 200 percent to his rehab,” strength and conditioning coach Steve Hess said. “We’re excited to see the outcome.”

Gallinari’s schedule will be scaled back while he is in Italy, but he still plans to work out with the Italian national team to keep in shape.

“It’s always nice to stay with them and play some basketball with great athletes and friends,” he said.

Gallinari is hoping the rest, relaxation and rehabilitation will help him take the final steps in his recovery.

“If you tell me to play a basketball game right now, my mind is not ready,” he said. “It’s still a process. In September I’ll be playing a lot of basketball, so hopefully by training camp my mind will be ready.”