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Festus Ezeli Not Close to A Return

Festus Ezeli (knee) has yet to participate fully in Trail Blazers practice, two weeks after his anticipated return.

Portland Trail Blazers center Festus Ezeli is still recovering from the knee procedure that he underwent on August 23. His initial timetable for return was set at six weeks, which would have put him back in action on October 4. Of course, these sort of timetables are not exact, nor are they more than an estimate at times. It is, however, a bit unnerving that Ezeli has yet to participate in 3-on-3 activity, according to Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune:

Festus Ezeli, who underwent a procedure on his left knee in August, is still not close to a return.

“We’re taking it day by day,” said the 6-11 center, who signed a two-year, $15-million free-agent contract with Portland in July. “I’ve had some ups and downs.”

Ezeli was recently given clearance to begin shooting drills, but has not yet participated in any 3-on-3 activity.

“There’s no timetable (for a return) when it comes to this stuff,” he said. “It goes by feel. Some days I feel good. There are good days and bad days, but there’s progress overall.”

Now, Jason Quick of CSNNW has speculated that the brand new Blazer may not take the court in a year that ends in ‘6.’ This would be quite unexpected, but it is interesting that a full eight weeks after an injection of bone marrow aspirate (meant to alleviate pain and improve function of the knee), Ezeli is still having good days and bad days and is mostly limited to light shooting.

Upon evaluation from team doctors in July, the Trail Blazers signed Ezeli for much less than his expected rate, leading some to believe that his knee might be even more of a problem than is publicly known. His present absence from preseason play may be a sign of things to come. Or, more specifically, a sign of things not to come.

Yet, this is not a ‘red alert’ moment. Ezeli and the Trail Blazers are being understandably cautious, and a two-month offseason absence (and counting) does not a tragedy make. In response to every question about his recovery, Ezeli has reported progress, and he even participated in parts of a half court 4-on-4 session earlier this week, according to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian.

The regular season is less than one week away. At this juncture, it seems highly unlikely that Ezeli will be ready for opening night. We are slowly transitioning from “Will he miss time?” to “How much time is he going to miss?”