Robin Lopez expected to return on Wednesday

Robin Lopez is expected to return on Wednesday after missing 14 games with a knee injury. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns center Robin Lopez went through his first full practice Sunday morning since tearing ligaments in his left knee against the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 14.

After a positive showing, the third-year center is expected to make his return (and maybe start) against the Minnesota Timberwolves at home on Wednesday, according to The Arizona Republic.

“I think Robin’s probably going to go (Wednesday),” coach Alvin Gentry told The Republic. “We’ll see but he made a lot of progress. He had a good practice and doesn’t seem to have any pain or anything. The big thing for him is going to be the conditioning part of it. He seemed to have a little bounce back and things like that.

“I was pleasantly surprised because I thought he’d had about as much bounce as I’ve seen this season really.”

Not only is Lopez’s left knee at full strength, the right leg that’s given him trouble since last season is also much better.

The seven-footer pinched a nerve in his right leg as a result of a bulging disk in his back that kept him out of 31 games last season.

But with more time removed from the initial injury, the nerve damage has lessened, according to Lopez.

“The nerve damage down the right leg was kind of a lingering problem and, dating back to the back injury, takes a little while to heal,” Lopez said. “Obviously, there’s more distance between the injury now and it’s feeling better.”

Lopez said “there is no real problem with the knee really” and, after scrimmaging for 20 minutes on Sunday, he doesn’t feel like he’s “missed a step” due to the injury.

The 22-year-old was ineffective throughout the nine games he has played in this season, averaging 5.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in only 17.7 minutes per game. But Gentry’s comments and Lopez’s progress are certainly encouraging.

Although Earl Barron (3.2 points, 3.5 rebounds in 17 minutes per game) has done a respectable job in terms of rebounding and defense with Lopez mending, the Suns need their coveted seven-footer back in the lineup and producing.

Tags: Robin Lopez

  • Evan

    The entire time he was out he should have hit the gym and added streangth and bulked up his upper body, so that maybe he would be so soft inside when his knee healed, but no.

  • ABhijit Bordia

    Starting line up


  • Michael

    bordia… where does childress fit?

  • KJ Loyalist

    Even if he hit the gym everyday during the time he’s been out, he wouldn’t have that much extra bulk.

    Something like that takes a lot of time to develop especially in the NBA which is more of a cardio / endurance sport.

    Look at Amare and Dwight Howard. They were both paper thin out of high school and though there are big differences nearly 10 years later, overall they’re really not that much bigger.

    He’ll never be Oliver Miller big. It’s just not in his body, (then again I don’t know if many will be Oliver Miller big).

  • Sean

    I think the Suns need to start Frye, not Warrick, when Lopez returns. With Bordia’s lineups above, the starters only have 2 3-point shooters (Nash & J-Rich), which won’t spread the floor, while the bench would have 4 (Dragic, Dudley, Hedo, and Frye).

  • Mel.

    “He’ll never be Oliver Miller big. It’s just not in his body, (then again I don’t know if many will be Oliver Miller big).”

    More importantly, would anybody in today’s NBA actually want to BE Oliver Miller big?

  • KJ Loyalist

    @ Sean – that all depends on how RoLo has progressed in regards to his “roll execution.”

    If he is still turning the wrong way on the PnR, (and taking 1 full, extra second to get to the basket which gives teams the time to get back), then you’ll see Prince Hakim with RoLo in the starting 5.

    Either way it’s an issue, because if Warrick is in the starting rotation it will cause problems for Dragon and the bench mob because then Dragon won’t have a proper roll man on offense. (How important is Warrick to this team? Man-Crush is growing!!!)

    BTW, @ Mel – Bogut is one more injury away from being Oliver Miller big.

    In all seriousness, what we could see happen.. *gulp*.. is that both Warrick AND Frye end up on the bench and the beginning of he season starts all over again because you have to put Hedo somewhere. (I really don’t like him on this team)

    I’d run it like this:

    Starters: Nash, J Rich, G Hill, Frye, RoLo
    Bench 5: Dragon!!!!!, JMZ, Hedo, Warrick, Barron
    Floaters: Childress, Clark

    Personally I like Childress better than Hedo in regards to the second unit, but I feel hedo needs a set role while Childress can play the 2 or the 3.

    I love that Barron has a mid range jumper and not 3 point range because he still spaces the floor, but can get into rebounding posistion a lot faster / more often than Frye would with the second unit.