Brandon Roy sat out again Wednesday night, not suiting up for Minnesota for a third straight game due to sore knees even though they could have used him. No team has been as injury plagued this young season as Minnesota (although Toronto would like to throw its hat in the ring), to the point they went out and signed Josh Howard.
But Minnesota is still taking is slow with Roy. Because they can (they are 5-3) and because they have to — this is a guy forced away from the game a couple years ago because of knee issues. His return was not going to be smooth.
Roy told reporters he hopes to play Friday, but even if he does there is the question of how much he can help. In the five games he played, Roy is averaging 5.4 points a game on 31.4 percent shooting (and he has yet to hit a three) — he doesn’t have the explosiveness that made him a three-time All-Star so he has to adjust and that’s not easy, coach Rick Adelman told Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.
“He’s figuring that out,” Adelman said, as Roy navigates the physical and mental demands of his comeback. “He hasn’t been as effective as a lot of people thought he should be, but they’re thinking about the guy three years ago. He’s so used to just letting guys come to him and taking ‘em off the dribble and finishing plays.
“Y’know, he’s just coming back after being off a year and he’s just not as sure of himself right now. [Friday] he came out and took three quick jumpers and knocked ‘em down. Everybody who comes back from knee surgery or major surgery, if they’re smart players, they figure out how to get to their strengths. He still can do that. It’s just going to take time.”
The adjustment is mental, not physical.
“I’ve had moments when I’ve over-thought things, especially when the tempo picked up with the regular season,” Roy said. “There’ve been plays that I thought I could make, but then I kind of backed out of it. Not because of pain but because of mental. ‘Are you sure? Are you sure!? Some of it was just second-guessing myself.”
Minnesota is going to give Roy time, probably more time with Chase Budinger out, to find himself again. He has the basketball IQ to be a cagey veteran — which one shouldn’t have to be yet at 28, but that’s where Roy’s knees have left him. It’s just going to take time. And a lot of games off during the marathon of a season. It’s got to frustrate Roy, but it’s just part of his adjustment.