MILWAUKEE — Al Jefferson saw something he liked Sunday morning before the Utah Jazz departed for their four-game road trip.
For the first time since December, his Mississippi buddy was participating in a full-contact practice.
If all goes well, Mo Williams will be back on the court during the Jazz's current journey — and possibly as early as Wednesday in Cleveland.
"That was fun to watch him at practice (Sunday). He said he was a little winded. I told him I couldn’t tell," Jefferson said. "But it's good to get him back going, so hopefully (Tuesday) he'll be able to get another practice in and Wednesday he'll be able to go."
Williams admitted he wouldn’t be surprised if that happens.
The Jazz point guard hasn't played since suffering a surgery-requiring thumb injury Dec. 22 in Miami.
On Jan. 4, Williams underwent the knife for the second time in his career on that thumb. He was told by his doctor that his rehabilitation period would take about nine weeks, putting him right on that return schedule.
"We'll see. We'll see (about Wednesday). That would be great to play in front of those fans," said Williams, who played for Milwaukee and Cleveland earlier in his NBA career.
"It's hard to go out and get one full-contact practice in and say you're ready to play a professional basketball game at a high level."
Williams is excited that he's "going in the right direction" after missing the past 2 1/2 months.
"I'm practicing now. That was the last step, so we're almost there," he said. "We're just going to sit down and just assess it every day."
Before Monday's 109-108 overtime loss to the Bucks, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin pointed out how the team has missed Williams' quickness and scoring punch.
But Corbin added that it might take some time for the team to readjust.
"There will be another adjustment period," Corbin said. "But hopefully we can make it as short as we can and just get back to playing in a good rhythm."
Now that he's seeing his teammate practice again, Big Al can't wait to watch Williams drain one of his trademark transition 3-pointers — and to simply be back on the court when it counts.
Williams was averaging 12.9 points and 6.7 assists before going down with the injury.
"It'd just give a (heck) of a boost with the leadership he bring, the outside shooting he bring," Jefferson said. "It'd be a great boost.
BIG OW: As far as Jefferson's injury goes, the 6-foot-10 center initially thought he wouldn’t miss a game after tweaking his left ankle on Derrick Favors' foot in Utah's loss to Atlanta last Wednesday.
Jefferson missed his second straight game Monday.
"I just thought I'd be back for Friday's game but the ankle got another plan," Big Al said. "It didn't swell up as bad, but by me doing it so many times during my career I think it hurt the bone a little bit. I think the bone was sore."
It's uncertain when Jefferson, who participated a bit in shootaround in Milwaukee, will play again.
"It's feeling better, a lot better," Jefferson said after receiving pregame treatment. "It's always better to do that (return slowly) with any injury. Right now with the ankle thing, I think it's just more with the pain and the soreness inside of it. The sooner that gets better, I'll be able to go."
EXCUSED ABSENCE: The Jazz only had one true point guard available for Monday's game. Backup Jamaal Tinsley traveled with the team to Milwaukee but was allowed to leave before Monday's game so he could attend a funeral.
"We support him completely," Corbin said.
Tinsley is expected to rejoin the Jazz in time for Wednesday's game in Cleveland.
EMAIL: email@example.com TWITTER: DJJazzyJody
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company