Back With the Team, Paul Millsap Vows to Return "As Soon as Possible"

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

BOSTON – Calling his presence back with the Nuggets “therapeutic,” forward Paul Millsap talked for the first since suffering a left wrist injury about it and what’s to come with Altitude Sports and Nuggets.com on Wednesday.

He recently was fitted with a hard cast.

“I gotta stick with the cast,” Millsap said. “It’s part of me now. But, it’s been a tough journey, a tough road, a tough few weeks being that this is the longest time that I’ve missed. But I’m here to support my team, and I’m glad I’m here.”

The cast, Millsap said, will be on for a long while. He detailed the next steps when it does come time for it to be removed.

“Once the cast comes off I’m just rehabbing trying to get the range of motion back, get it strengthened back up,” he said. “I’m hoping it will take a few weeks, or it might take a month – however long the training staff tells me it will take is how long I’ve got to wait.”

Asked how long he thought he would be out, Millsap said, “I have no idea.”

He added he hoped to be back, “as soon as possible. Looking, it’s been a long two weeks. I actually thought it was longer, but I did the math and it’s only been two weeks. It’s going along slowly.”

Millsap was originally injured against the L.A. Lakers on Nov. 19. It took a few days before he had surgery on the wrist. He said the fact that he needed surgery was never in question, but he wanted to find the right surgeon.

“It was about picking the right team, picking the right surgeon to do it that’s within my comfort level and the team’s comfort level,” he said. “And we picked a great guy, a guy in Denver, Colorado, and he’s done a great job so far.”

Millsap recounted when he thought the injury occurred.

“I think it got tangled up when me and (Julius) Randle were wrestling, fighting for position,” he said. “I realized it when I got the ball; my hand didn’t feel right. At that point, I felt something was seriously wrong with it. I’ve had wrist sprains before. But I knew it wasn’t that. I thought I could tape it up, wrap it up and get back out there and finish the game. But, I went back out and I had no use of my left hand at all.”

Now, “taking it one day at a time,” Millsap spent time with his family during the days after the surgery.

He smiled.

“I’ve learned that my son is obsessed with basketball,” Millsap said. “He sits down and watches the games with me, and wants to go play all the time. So I’ve had time to spend with him and show him some of the tools. I’m just enjoying my time with my family.”

But on Monday, he was back with the team on the bench in street clothes in Detroit. He soaked in the experience.

“It’s good, just the energy level that these guys bring,” Millsap said. “It’s a brotherhood. I’ve been around these guys every single day since the season started and before then. So to go a few weeks without being around the is a little different, it’s a change. So to get back around them, just to talk and mingle and share my thoughts in basketball, it’s very therapeutic for myself for sure.”

This is the most significant injury Millsap has ever suffered. Until this season he’d never played fewer than 64 games in any single season of his NBA career. Additionally, Millsap had been working hard to gain chemistry with his new teammates – Nikola Jokic, in particular – and had been making inroads in that area.

He was averaging 15.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 16 games before he was injured.

“It brings chills to my body that at that point in time I was really feeling comfortable, our team was really striving,” Millsap said. “It felt like everything was coming together, everything was gelling, everything was mixing, and for this to happen it’s a minor setback for myself and know the coaches are looking at the same thing. It’s about the bigger picture.

“And hopefully during this time when I’m not on the court, guys get time to flourish and come along, because we’re going to need everybody toward the end of the season.”

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter