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Rudy Gay back to playing 5-on-5 and his Utah Jazz debut is imminent

Gay took an important step Monday in the return-to-play process — by fully participating in practice

Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gay puts up a shot
Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gay practices at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Rudy Gay took an important step Monday in the return-to-play process — by fully participating in practice with the Utah Jazz.

For the first time since joining the team in free agency, Gay was able to take part in full 5-on-5 contact with the Jazz, making his debut with the team imminent.

Though both Gay and Jazz head coach Quin Snyder were noncommittal when asked about a specific return date, Gay’s progression over the last week has significantly ramped up.

After offseason surgery on his right heel, the Jazz have been conservatively bringing Gay along. Gay has been medically cleared for some time, but the Jazz have slowly ramped up his activity over the last few weeks.

Last Monday, Gay was playing 2-on-2, Tuesday he was playing 3-on-3 and the Jazz announced that he was making progress toward a return. On Sunday, Gay worked out with the SLC Stars in preparation for a full run with the Jazz on Monday.

Following Jazz practice, Gay said there isn’t any lingering soreness from his procedure and that he’s looking forward to getting back on the court. Now it’s just about waiting for the Jazz medical and training staff to give him full clearance to play.

“It’s a process, but I feel good, my body feels good and I think me being on the court can help this team,” he said. “You want to play for a long time and I’m just coming off a surgery. The last thing I want to be is sidelined again. So, we’re gonna make sure that everything’s right.”

The Jazz’s Monday evening injury report, ahead of their Tuesday matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers, listed Gay as out, but the team plans to update his status following every shootaround and practice.

Once Gay does get back to playing in games, it’s unclear whether he’ll be on a minutes restriction. Snyder said those decisions will be made based on how Gay is feeling and what the game situation calls for.

“Generally when guys come back, there’s discussion about minutes and things like that, but those things are always malleable,” Snyder said. “Depending on the player, and the situation more than anything.”

The Jazz play at home Tuesday night against the Sixers and then Thursday against the Toronto Raptors before heading out for a game in Sacramento against the Kings.