Kiki Vandeweghe showed up at Portland's "shoot-around" practice Friday and said he hopes to be back in a Trail Blazer uniform before the year ends.
The sharpshooting forward has been on the injured list all season because of a sore back."I don't have a timetable," he said. "The doctor told me `You're going to know when you feel like playing.' My approach will be to take it slow and not overdo it.
"But I would hope it would be before the first of the year. The longer you wait, the harder it is."
He said he will begin practicing with the team on a limited basis on Saturday. However, he said his knees are bothering him because of the extensive physical effort that goes with rehabilitation.
Vandeweghe said his treatment by Dr. Kenneth Forsythe, a sports medicine specialist at Indio, Calif., was effective.
"It worked for a variety of reasons," Vandeweghe said. "It took me away from basketball and let me concentrate on making my back feel better. And it was very well supervised. Everything I did was monitored by someone. It was a different approach, too. It was a little more aggressive in the back-therapy mode."
Vandeweghe, dissatisfied with his role as a backup to starter Jerome Kersey, has asked the Blazers to trade him. But team owner Paul Allen refused to make a deal.