Rockets starting power forward Donatas Motiejunas may not be ready for the start of training camp, which could also put the start of the regular season in jeopardy for the big man, according to Jonathan Feigen.
Donuts reported that his rehab was going well, but that he was still working on restrengthening his core and things were "week-to-week" as we fast approach the Sept. 29 training camp start date.
While on the surface, this may seem like bad news, the positive spin is that back injuries are notoriously difficult to recover from, and the Rockets are afforded the luxury of a deep roster. This enables D-Mo to feel fully recovered before leaping back in to banging his surgically repaired spine against other 7-foot, 250-lb plus men night in and night out.
Yes, back surgery has moved light years forward from the rudimentary procedures of the past into the micro and laser surgeries of the present, but it's still one of the more delicate and difficult recoveries due to the nature of the nerves and muscles in the back either directly or indirectly controlling everything.
If you recall, Dwight Howard also had back surgery in April of 2012 and returned a mere 6 months later for the start of the season in October. One might suggest that Howard's rush back from such a serious surgery is what doomed his Lakers career from the start.
Howard was never fully healthy in L.A., and though he only missed 6 games that season, he battled conditioning concerns and various other ailments all season, including a torn labrum, which most likely came about due to strength and rehab issues post-surgery.
Howard left L.A. for greener pastures in Houston, though he continued to battle injuries, most notably a recurring knee issue, until the second half of the 2014-2015 season, when Howard finally declared himself fully healthy for the first time in years.
Had Dwight not rushed back from serious surgery so quickly and took his time with rehab, he easily could have been fully healthy in one year instead of three and avoided the kind of nagging injuries that arise from pushing an unhealed body to the limits.
Speaking from personal experience, I went through a similar surgery for an injury sustained playing in rec league games, and while the technical "recovery" time for this type of procedure is only 6-8 weeks, followed by rehab, it easily took a full year minimum before I truly began to feel like myself again.
While I certainly don't have the physical attributes of a professional athlete that could allow for speedy recovery, I also don't have nearly the same daily physical demands.
Back surgery is still serious business, and although it's definitely possible to come back as strong, or stronger, than ever (especially at his young age), the healing and rehab is absolutely the most important part. Not having Motiejunas for the start of the season, with the goal of having him back 100 percent, is certainly preferable to only having him intermittently for the next several seasons due to pushing him.
Terrence Jones, despite his postseason struggles, is more than capable of filling up on starters minutes at the four to begin the regular season while D-Mo continues to heal. And the Rockets will be happy to accelerate the development of Motrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker, who could both see bench minutes (Dekker in a small lineup) in such a scenario.
Get well, D-Mo It's a long season, and the Rockets plan on playing into June.