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Avery Bradley is slowly working his way back afte double shoulder surgery.BOSTON -- Though he's made significant progress over the last month, the timeline for Celtics guard Avery Bradley's return hasn't yet been altered. As far back as last summer, the Celtics had pegged Bradley for a mid-to-late December return, and, prior to the team's preseason finale on Sunday, Bradley said that time frame is still in play.
The signs of progress are there for Bradley; he can now shoot jump shots, do some light weightlifting, and run through non-contact offensive sets. He said his next step is continuing to strengthen his shoulders and his arms, to help prepare him for when he returns to full-contact drills.
"That's the big thing for me right now, trying to get stronger, so I'm able to do contact things," Bradley said. "Like right now I can walk through the offense, but obviously I can't jump into practice and have a full practice yet. I wish I could, but I'm getting there.
"It's more up to me, like how I'm feeling. Just how I feel going up against contact. If my shoulders can't put up with it, that's when they're going to say, like, 'Don't do it.' That's the main thing right now for me, is the contact. They're so worried about me not doing contact. I can't dunk the ball, I can't do anything like that, because they don't want me to put any stress, like I haven't even done a full push-up. I can't put any weight on my shoulders right now. I've just got to get them stronger."
Bradley said strength is a key part of his recovery. He lost upwards of 12 pounds after his surgeries, bottoming out around 180 pounds before he could begin gaining it back. And though he has started to put more weight on, he said he doesn't have much in terms of muscle tone right now.
The Celtics have been operating on a series of deadlines with Bradley, the latest being his return to shooting drills and weight work. The next step? Engaging in a full-contact practice, which should happen at some point in November.
"I think the next deadline is for me to practice. I went from working out with [head trainer Ed Lacerte] to the strength and conditioning coach, so, that was one deadline," Bradley explained. "And then now, the next one is for me to practice, and that's like November, or something like that. That's what they were aiming for, for me to be able to [go through] a contact practice. But as of right now, I'm just shooting every day, lifting every day, and trying to increase my weight every week. That's what I'm trying to do right now."
Though he's still limited in terms of what he can do, Bradley said he's already seeing improvements in his jump shot. He said he has experienced mild discomfort at times during hit shooting drills, but he said that's primarily due to just not having shot a basketball in months. And that discomfort is a far cry from the pain Bradley experienced in last season's playoffs, when his injuries were at their worst.
"A lot of people during the summertime were like, 'I don't know how you did it,' Bradley said when asked how badly his shoulders were hurting him. "But, the adrenaline, and not only that, not wanting to let your teammates down, there was a mix of that, that's why I kept playing. But it hurt really bad. It got to the point where I couldn't do it anymore, because you could just pull one of my shoulders and just pull it out. It was bad. It was bad."
Boston's bolstered backcourt, including the recent addition of Leandro Barbosa, might impact the starting role Bradley secured at the end of last season. But the third-year guard maintained that his starting gig isn't essential.
"It's up to Doc. It really doesn't matter to me," said Bradley. "I've just got to be ready for my team. If I'm starting, I'm starting. If I'm not, I'm not. I just have to be prepared for whatever Doc wants me to do and I'm going to come back stronger."
Bradley said it's been difficult at times for him to watch the team from the bench. He didn't attend the team's latest road trip because of his impatience over not being able to play, but he's keeping his sights set firmly on the future, when he can finally return to the court.
"I can't wait 'til the first game when I get out there and I know my teammates can't wait. We all talk about it, joke about it. But, I've just got to do everything I need to do off the court, so I can be prepared when the time comes."