Nuggets hope Martin can return to practice Tuesday
AP Sports Writer
DENVER – The Denver Nuggets know they’ll have a better chance of going far in the playoffs if Kenyon Martin’s physical and mental issues are straightened out.
The Nuggets are hoping that Martin will return to practice Tuesday after being out for a month with patellar tendinitis in his left knee and they’re also crossing their fingers that he’s put aside his anger over an April Fool’s popcorn prank involving J.R. Smith.
Martin declined to comment on either topic after shooting baskets and riding an exercise bike during practice Monday.
He brushed past a reporter waiting outside the team’s locker room, smiling and saying, “Nope,” before fielding any questions or breaking stride as he sauntered down the hallway, his left knee wrapped in a brown bandage.
Acting head coach Adrian Dantley said he wasn’t sure what Martin would be able to do at practice Tuesday or even if he’ll be able to withstand the pain enough to participate in drills.
Martin had platelet-rich plasma injection therapy last month, choosing the procedure also known as “blood spinning” over season-ending surgery in hopes he’ll be back in time for the playoffs.
Martin, the only American professional athlete to return from microfracture surgery on both knees, hasn’t played since March 3. The Nuggets have sorely missed his defense and team-leading 9.6 rebounds a game.
Seeing Martin on the court “whether it’s by himself or with a coach or trying to get a little conditioning in is definitely hope for us because we need him,” Chauncey Billups said.
Just as important for Carmelo Anthony was watching Martin and Smith talking Monday.
On April 1, Martin screamed loudly about a prank played on him by Smith’s personal driver, Laquan Johnson, a former Nuggets ball boy, who filled Martin’s car with buttery popcorn during Denver’s 109-92 win over Portland.
“That ain’t no … joke,” Martin screamed in the locker room after the game. “I’m going to find out who did it. … How ’bout if I don’t play in the playoffs until somebody tells me who did it?”
ESPN reported that Johnson later apologized to Martin and offered to pay to get the car cleaned.
Smith said Monday that he spoke with Martin but he didn’t divulge much of what was said.
Anthony said it seemed as though his teammates had put aside their spat.
“They’re fine to me,” Anthony said. “They’ve talked. I don’t know what they said to you guys. But today in practice, they were talking. Downstairs in the locker room, they were talking. Everything seems fine to me.”
The Nuggets are less certain about Martin’s left knee.
“I haven’t heard anything,” Dantley said. “All I know is he was on the court today. It’s Kenyon’s decision. When he says he’s feeling good, that’s when he’ll practice. That’s when he’ll play.”
Martin shot baskets Monday before reporters were allowed to watch.
“He probably made some,” Dantley said. “But we need his rebounding more than we need his shooting. (We need) his defense.”
The Nuggets listed “limited practice tomorrow” next to his name on the daily injury report Monday, but Dantley didn’t have any plans in place for his power forward.
“That’s up to the doctor and trainer,” Dantley said. “I don’t know anything about that.”