The Rockets season opener is nearing ever closer and power forward Donatas Motiejunas is still not back.
Are we concerned, are we starting to get a little worried? What are we doing... What are we wearing? Sorry TDS readers, my bad was watching FX's Archer (great show) got carried away a little bit,
We all understood that D-Mo was going to miss the start of training camp, and I think everyone was fine with that because we had thought he'd be back before the season opener.
Well, it now does not seem D-Mo will be back before the season opener, nor does there seem to be a timetable for his return.
Yes, yes, yes, we get that D-Mo is working himself back. We also all understand, much like D-Mo himself has said earlier before training camp, that the back is not like a knee. It's a different kind of animal when it comes to coming back from an injury. You kind of have to go at its pace, and not your own.
Everyone also understands that trainers and the team doctors are going to what's best for his long-term health and not do anything to jeopardize that.
But speaking for the fans, just knowing a timeframe of when he will be back will put people more at ease about the upcoming season. After all, if the Rockets are to go farther than they did last year, D-Mo needs to be a part of it.
"I hate to say day-to-day, but I think he might be," head coach Kevin McHale said Wednesday about his fourth-year power forward D-Mo. "He hasn't practiced yet, he's starting to run, he's starting to do some stuff."
No doubt D-Mo is light years closer to coming back than where he was right after his back surgery. While it's closer, it still feels like we are not days off, but more like weeks.
McHale earlier this preseason pretty much laid out the plan for D-Mo, step by step.
"That's the big test, you got to start running," McHale said earlier in training camp "then you got to start running with other people, then you go to start banging, the start of it is running, once you start running you're getting closer,"
Since around early October, D-Mo has been running, but he has yet to take part in a practice. It's safe to bet that the D-Mo is going to need more than just one practice to get into actual game shape. It's actually probably going to be a few before he gets the A-OK to take part in a game.
Just scroll through D-Mo's twitter timeline, and you'll see he's been pretty active. He's running, and putting up hundreds of shots a day, he's closer, but just not there yet.
So life without D-Mo for now will likely be Terrence Jones — Jones himself is out with a concussion, but is close to a return — and a mixture of Trevor Ariza and rookies Montrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker.
The Rockets the season have been tinkering around with different lineups and looks, quite possibly because they were worried about this same question. What is life without D-Mo? Last season it was heavy doses of Josh Smith. Well Smith's now gone so this season it looks like it will be the guys above.
Ariza and Dekker can handle your more athletic fours that want to face the basket, like Blake Griffin, Dirk Nowitzki and the Kevin Loves of the world. Jones and Harrell are more capable at dealing with your more bruising, back to the basket fours like. Zach Randolph, Tim Duncan, the Kenneth Faried's.
If you are worried about the use of rookies, don't.
"I like them both in certain areas, I think they are both getting better," McHale said "Montrezl with his hustle, there's just kinda more of a defined spot, rebounding, running, setting screens, he's doing a nice job,"
No doubt Harrell has the toughness and rebounding aspect, but what he lacks Dekker can provide with his ability to space the floor and shoot threes.
Regardless of if the rookies can hold it down while D-Mo is out, hurry back D-Mo! Basketball without you is doable, but man it flows better when you are in there.