PORTLAND, Ore. – Guard Brandon Roy is returning to practice and wants to rejoin the Trail Blazers as soon as this weekend, but he'll have to prove himself first.
Portland's three-time All-Star had arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees just three weeks ago and coach Nate McMillan says he wants to see Roy at work before making a decision.
Portland, coming off a 109-103 victory over the Chicago Bulls, had the day off on Tuesday. They'll practice at home on Wednesday before heading to Toronto for Friday night's game against the Raptors.
"I can't really predict the future, but right now they (the knees) feel good," Roy said. "The biggest thing is once I start playing I have to keep them at a level where I feel good about going out there and helping this team."
Roy was averaging 16.6 points in 23 games before he was sidelined indefinitely by the team. He says now he is nearly pain free, but still needs to practice at full speed.
His announcement has sparked debate over whether it is too soon to return. It also has implications for forward LaMarcus Aldridge, whose play has vastly improved since Portland began running its offense through him.
Last season, Roy had arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee two days before the Blazers opened their first-round playoff series against Phoenix. He made a remarkable comeback and played in the fourth game of the series, which the Suns eventually won.
Some suggested that perhaps he returned too soon from that surgery, and is being too hasty this time around, too.
Roy has said the problem is too little cartilage in both his knees.
Although Roy was hopeful to be on the court against Toronto, or perhaps in Detroit on Sunday, he vowed to listen to doctors after testing his knee at practice. And when he does return, he'll ease himself back, he said.
"I'm going to try to get through these practices and when we're in Toronto I'm sure we'll sit down and come up with an amount of minutes. I'm sure he (McMillan) is going to want to keep it low when I first come back," Roy said.
Roy hasn't played since Dec. 15. That's when Portland started to go to Aldridge, who has averaged 25.4 points and 10.2 rebounds since then. The Blazers are 16-10 without Roy.
In the victory over the Bulls, Aldridge had a career-high 42 points. He said afterward that the Blazers need Roy back.
"A lot of guys have been playing a lot of minutes, so getting Brandon back should be good for us," Aldridge said.
Roy weighed in: "I think we are always just going to try to help each other play well. The goal is always to try to win. I don't know how we're going to run plays or anything yet. I just want to come back and get out there and get my legs back."
Word of Roy's return was first reported by The Oregonian newspaper shortly before the Blazers took on the Bulls. After the game, McMillan suggested that Roy wasn't the only one coming back — center Marcus Camby would be practicing this week, too.
Camby had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Jan. 20. He was averaging 5.9 points and 11.3 rebounds in 39 games this season.
"Bandon and Camby have decided when they're coming back. We have these couple of days where we're going to practice. I'll see if these guys show up for practice and we'll go from there," McMillan said. "As far as playing this weekend, that hasn't been decided yet."
The Blazers have been dogged by injuries for the second straight season.
In November, the team announced that center Greg Oden, the No. 1 draft pick in 2007, would miss the season because of microfracture surgery on his left knee. Oden missed his rookie year because of microfracture surgery on his right knee.
Second-year forward Jeff Pendergraph injured his knee in the preseason and required season-ending surgery. And rookie guard Elliot Williams has undergone surgery this season on both knees.
Last season Blazers players collectively missed more games than any team in the NBA except the Warriors.