The cast on Paul Millsap’s left wrist has been removed, a key step in the Nuggets’ power forward’s recovery from ligament surgery as he aims to return around the All-Star break, coach Michael Malone confirmed following shootaround Wednesday.
“Not to get too excited, not to put the cart before the horse,” Malone said, “but (medical staff) said initially that All-Star break, before or after, was the timeline (for Millsap’s return). I think he’s still on that timeline, so things are moving in the right direction.”
Millsap, who sustained the injury during a Nov. 19 game at the Los Angeles Lakers and underwent reconstructive surgery Nov. 26, has been doing light conditioning and “basketball-related activities” in recent weeks, including shooting with one hand. Malone said the cast’s removal will allow Millsap to “ramp up” such work moving forward.
The injury to Millsap, a four-time all-star and Denver’s flashy free-agent signing, was originally viewed as a potential blow to the Nuggets’ quest to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. But Denver has gone 12-12 in his absence, and held the seventh spot in the Western Conference entering Wednesday’s home game against Atlanta with an overall record of 21-19. The Nuggets also played seven games without standout big man Nikola Jokic in December.
“I am very proud of our guys that we never used Paul being out as an excuse,” Malone said. “It was ‘OK, he’s out. Next man up.’”
Prior to the injury, Millsap was averaging 15.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 16 games for the Nuggets.