SALT LAKE CITY — A pulled hammy is no joke, folks.
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley has learned the hard way that hamstring injuries take time and patience to come back from, and dealing with the frustration of being held back has been the hardest part of his recent recovery.
“Seeing what the guys were able to accomplish in the last month or so has been great and fun, and just seeing the growth of the team, I just really want to be involved and want to be a part of that.” — Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley
“It’s different,” he said Saturday morning. “For the most part the last couple weeks I’ve felt fine. It’s hard to tell someone not to do something when you feel like you can run through the wall and jump and dunk...yet, because of the nature of the hamstring you have to just be cautious.”
Hopefully all of that is behind him, as Conley returned to the court with the Jazz on Saturday night in a 123-101 win over the Sacramento Kings.
Conley missed five games from Dec. 4 through Dec. 13 with a strained hamstring before returning to play in just one game and aggravating the injury. Since then he has missed 14 straight games — 12 of which have been Jazz wins — and been forced to watch from the sidelines.
“It’s a little bit draining because you want to be a part of success,” he said. “Seeing what the guys were able to accomplish in the last month or so has been great and fun, and just seeing the growth of the team, I just really want to be involved and want to be a part of that.”
The Jazz are expected to be cautious with Conley as he reintegrates into the team, putting him on a minutes restriction and bringing him along gradually from the bench first before he returns to the starting lineup.
Conley, while unable to be on the court or practice with the team fully, has been spending long hours in the gym and weight room staying active. Additionally he’s been playing one-on-one, two-on-two, and three-on-three as much as possible.
The Jazz even called up two-way guard Justin Wright-Foreman from the G League in order to work out with Conley on the most recent road trip.
Conley has been diligently watching the Jazz and trying to soak up as much information as he can as an observer and believes that even though he hasn’t played with the team in a month that he’s more familiar than ever.
“Honestly just from watching the games and even when I went on the road trip I developed an understanding of everybody’s tendencies,” Conley said. “When I come back I can use that to my advantage.”
Conley added that he doesn’t have any concerns about rejoining the team, a sentiment echoed by his teammates. All have been eagerly ready for him to be back in the game.