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Maurice Harkless Aiming For Preseason Return

The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman reports that the Blazers forward is “happy” with the recent progress of his injured knee and is hoping to play in the preseason.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers-Media Day Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

After the initial shock of the media day revelation that his knee was not fully healed from last season, Portland Trail Blazers fans can breathe a sigh of relief that forward Moe Harkless’s return to the court will likely be coming sooner than later.

Harkless recently told The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman that he is a near-full participant in practice and hopes to play in two of the team’s four remaining preseason games.

Per Freeman:

”I want to play in a couple,” he said. “I don’t want to just go out there and just go all out. It’s tough on the body. Coming from an injury, it’s probably not smart to do.”

This measured approach likely won’t end when the regular season begins. A lot will depend on how Harkless’ knee responds to preseason play, but he said he most likely will play reduced minutes when the Blazers open the regular season Oct. 18 against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Blazers have three games during the first week of the regular season and seven over the first two weeks, and Harkless doesn’t want to endure another setback.

”I’ll probably start off the first couple games (with) low minutes, just see how I feel, and then increase every game,” he said. “That’s why I want to get more than one preseason game in to try and build and gauge that, so when the regular season starts, I have a better idea.”

Harkless underwent arthroscopic knee surgery late last season and only appeared in two of the team’s four playoff games, while also missing the final nine games of the regular season. The seventh-year man out of St. John’s played in 59 games in the 2017-18 campaign, making 37 starts. He averaged 6.5 points in just over 21 minutes a game.

The Blazers take on the Phoenix Suns in their second preseason game on Friday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT.