Nene set to return to action
DENVER ” Denver Nuggets forward Nene was planning on returning to action Thursday, 21/2 months after surgery to remove a malignant testicular tumor.
Nene, who underwent a single dose of chemotherapy last month, participated in a full scrimmage Wednesday and in the team’s shootaround Thursday. Before that, he had been limited to shooting, light running and 1-on-1 drills.
He hoped to play about five minutes against the Dallas Mavericks Thursday night, although he said it would feel like 50.
“He’s probably in his first week of exhibition season from the standpoint of stamina and understanding what’s going to happen out there,” coach George Karl said. “But it’s basketball, it’s not brain surgery. He knows how to play basketball and I think you’ll see him on the court.”
Nene, who averaged 6.4 points and 6.4 rebounds before his illness, is expecting a warm welcome from fans: “It’s going to be crazy because a lot of people love me,” he said with a laugh.
Working Nene into meaningful minutes will be difficult at this time of year.
“Guys are set in their minutes. Guys are set in their ways,” center Marcus Camby said. “Coach pretty much has his lineup set. And guys are comfortable with the minutes they’re getting. It will definitely be an adjustment. I would be unselfish. I would give up some of my minutes to get Nene out on the basketball court.”
The Brazilian player took an indefinite leave of absence from the team on Jan. 11. He missed 22 games earlier this season after undergoing left thumb surgery.
Nene was out for all but one game of the 2005-06 season after tearing a knee ligament, and he was sidelined for 27 games the season before with a variety of ailments.
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