Orlando Magic veteran guard Gary Harris feels like he’s “getting close” to making his season debut after being sidelined for the first 13 games while recovering from an arthroscopic meniscectomy he had Aug. 31 on his left knee after tearing his meniscus.
How close remains unknown.
“I can’t really say one day or the other because some days are better than others right now, but it’s feeling good right now,” Harris told the Orlando Sentinel ahead of Friday’s home win over the Phoenix Suns. “Just trying to keep it that way.”
Harris, who was also sidelined for training camp, told the Sentinel he’s pain-free.
He added that he’s been getting “up and down fullcourt” with coaches playing 4-on-4 and 5-on-5, confirming what coach Jamahl Mosley recently told reporters.
Mosley said going up against coaches is what Harris did during Saturday’s practice.
Harris has been getting up shots pregame this past week at Amway Center, typically an encouraging sign for a player’s return-to-play progress.
“I’m moving around a little bit right now,” Harris said. “I’m really trying to get my timing back. Get back in basketball shape. I’m testing stuff out each day. I get more comfortable around the court.”
The Magic have gone 3-2 in their season-long seven-game homestand, which ends with matchups vs. the Charlotte Hornets Monday and Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday.
When asked if he could return before the homestretch ends, Harris responded, “Man, I just got to take it one day at a time.”
“[Friday] was a good day,” he said. “Hopefully we have another good day [Saturday] and keep it moving and see how it goes.”
He added he didn’t have “certain expectations or days” when asked if he thought he’d be back on the floor by now.
Harris, who was on an expiring contract for 2021-22 that paid him $20.5 million, signed a 2-year, $26 million extension to return to Orlando before free agency officially started July 1.
He has a $13 million fully-guaranteed salary for the 2022-23 season and a $13 million non-guaranteed salary for 2023-24. His 2023-24 salary becomes fully guaranteed after June 30, 2023.
Harris finished the season averaging 11.1 points on 43.4% shooting from the field and 38.4% shooting on 3s for a 53.9% effective field goal percentage — a formula that adjusts for 3-pointers being worth more than 2-pointers.
He’s coming off his healthiest season in a few years, appearing in 61 games, the most he’s played in a season since 2017-18. His eFG% was the highest it has been since then, too.
Harris has suffered various minor injuries throughout his career but the meniscectomy was his first surgery, he said, providing different challenges during the rehab process.
“It’s just different,” Harris said. “Different movements. It’s something I have to get back comfortable and familiar with after my first one. Just seeing how my body responds.”
Harris was one of six players who was sidelined Friday, along with Cole Anthony (torn right internal oblique), Paolo Banchero (sprained left ankle), Markelle Fultz (fractured left big toe), Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery) and Moe Wagner (sprained right midfoot).
Mosley said Banchero practiced Saturday, adding, “He went through all the drills we put forth for him.”
The coach said that Banchero’s status remains day-to-day and he’ll be a game-time decision for Monday.
“[Isaac and Harris are] still doing the things they were doing the past couple of days, going up against coaches,” Mosley said. “Markelle is still doing his individual work, not necessarily going against coaches but [an] individual non-contact deal. Moe Wagner, similar, no-contact, going through his own routine and getting that foot stable.”
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.
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