Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan has been cleared to return, but won’t play Thursday vs. Charlotte

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DeMar DeRozan was reportedly slated to return to the Raptors lineup on Thursday against the Hornets, after suffering a groin injury that has kept him sidelined for his team’s last 18 games.

But that timeline has now changed.

While DeRozan has been deemed healthy, he’ll need a little more time to get his conditioning back to the point where he feels ready to return to NBA action.

From Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca:

DeRozan’s groin injury is fully healed & he’s been cleared but both he & the docs feel he needs to get conditioning back before he returns

DeRozan says he wont play tomorrow vs Charlotte, wants to get a couple more practices in before he comes back. Could return Sat or next week

DeRozan: “I owe that to [my teammates] not to just jump back in the game. I want to get a couple more practices in and then make a comeback”

Whenever DeRozan makes it back, his return will be a welcome sight. After a 13-3 start to the season, the Raptors have gone just 11-7 with him out of the lineup — not bad, obviously, but not top-of-the-East dominant as the team once was.

DeRozan is averaging 19.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 33.6 minutes per game for the Raptors this season.