Feeling good. Just happy to be on the floor again and practice with the team. —Jazz big man Andris Biedrins
SALT LAKE CITY — A couple of Utah Jazz centers switched spots for Wednesday’s practice.
Enes Kanter was sidelined during the workout session because of an inversion sprain in his right ankle, but Andris Biedrins was given the green light to fully participate for the first time in a month.
Biedrins hadn’t gone through a full practice since he sprained his left ankle two days before the Jazz’s season-opener in late October.
“Feeling good,” Biedrins said. “Just happy to be on the floor again and practice with the team.”
It’s uncertain whether either player will be available for action Friday when the Jazz host the Phoenix Suns. Shooting guard Brandon Rush could be available as he also went through a full practice.
“Finally, we have almost everybody back,” Biedrins said. “I think that’s the big part now is just play together and have a feel for each other.”
Biedrins’ playing situation depends on how his ankle responds to increased activity, as he’s mostly been doing stationary cycling and light jogging for conditioning.
Kanter received more treatment Wednesday on the ankle he sprained Sunday in Oklahoma City. He missed Monday’s 89-83 overtime win over Chicago and will be a game-time decision Friday.
This three-day break in action came at a good time for the Jazz.
Not only does it allow them to soak in the positive vibes of just their second win of the season, but they also get time to allow nagging injuries to heal — from ankles to point guard Trey Burke's finger.
It also helps Utah get some rare practice time on consecutive days (Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day) without games.
“We need the rest. We need the practice. We need the repetition with the guys,” Corbin said. “We’ve got so many guys that (are) coming back since the time we started at the beginning of the year.”
This injury has been frustrating for Biedrins, who’s had numerous issues with his left ankle over the years. The 7-footer said he was in excellent shape and was excited to begin his new start in Utah after being traded to the Jazz from the Warriors, where his self-confidence was zapped.
The 27-year-old Biedrins is hoping to re-establish himself as a dependable big man in the NBA. He admitted that the fact that his contract expires next summer is on his mind. The Jazz, Corbin said, can also use his interior passing, rebounding and defensive help.
“That’s why this injury was so frustrating because I thought I was in really good shape before I sprained it,” Biedrins said. “It will take a lot to get it back, but I’m ready for it. I know this is may last year and I will do everything to succeed.”
And, he added, to help the Jazz succeed.
Biedrins has been impressed by the Jazz bigs, even saying that 7-foot-1 rookie Rudy Gobert “stepped up big time” in his absence. Now he hopes to be able to contribute as the Jazz try to improve on their 2-14 start.
His former Golden State teammate, Rush, is also on the verge of coming back (again). The shooting guard said he’s “doing fine,” but he also only made one 10-minute appearance with the Jazz and in the NBA since injuring his knee on Nov. 2, 2012. Rush said it’s “more of a mental thing” as he’s been trying to better learn the Jazz offense before stepping back onto the court after being out for more than a year.
“(He’s) just trying to get his confidence back and feeling comfortable with the guys, reassure himself that his leg’s ready to go,” Corbin said. “I hope this is the top of the hill so we can get him on the floor. He’s been looking very (good) in practice. We’re looking for him to be ready to go.”