With black tape wrapped around his left thumb and his navy blue T-shirt soaked in sweat, Christian Wood spoke with reporters Friday for the first time in weeks and made a declaration sure to excite Mavericks fans:
“I’m ready to go.”
Not quite so fast.
Though Wood returned to practice Friday and scrimmaged with Dallas’ low-minutes reserves and assistant coaches at the end, he said he will not play Saturday against the Golden State Warriors to start a five-game road trip.
Look instead for Wood to play Monday against the Utah Jazz or Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
With the Mavericks needing reinforcements for their injury-riddled frontcourt and offensive balance with Luka Doncic (heel injury) uncertain to play during this road trip, here’s what Wood said Friday about his thumb rehabilitation and his hopes for reacclimating to Dallas’ starting lineup.
Is your thumb all right? Are you ready to play?
Wood: “Yeah, I’m ready to go.”
Are you going to play tomorrow vs. Warriors?
Wood: “No, I don’t think probably tomorrow. But I’m going to shoot for either against Utah or the next game.”
What’s been the biggest obstacle since you’ve been out?
Wood: “Conditioning. Trying to keep that conditioning up, stay in game shape, try to play some games to try and keep my rhythm.”
How do you use your non-dominant hand in basketball? What ways have you learned you use your left hand?
Wood: “Catching the ball, dunking the ball. I’m around the rim a lot. Finishing rip-throughs in terms of triple-threat position. There’s a lot of ways you can use your thumb, so thankful that [the athletic training staff with] Casey [Smith], Dionne [Calhoun], they got me right, taking care of me, so I’m ready to go.”
Any aspect of your game you feel is still affected by having your thumb taped up?
Wood: “I actually looked at it like I got some rest. During this break, I got some rest. I’m rejuvenated. I’m pumped and about to be faster than everybody out there now.”
How difficult has it been to sit and watch the team for two weeks?
Wood: “It’s been difficult, but at the same time, when you’re sitting and watching, you can learn some things and see what we need to work on — rebounding, rim protection, things of that matter. Just watch and see what we can get better at and try to come in and improve and help the team.”
You all are having bad luck with injuries with Luka now out, too — what gives?
Wood: “Yeah, but I think it’s always next-man-up mentality. I think we have a good group of guys that can come together. You’ve seen what [Spencer Dinwiddie] can do, especially on the road, what he did in Phoenix for us. Guys can step up, and that’s what we need.”
Ever had an injury like this?
Wood: “No. no.”
Jason [Kidd] said it’s a matter of seeing how your thumb responds to getting back in practice — is that more of your pain tolerance or something structural?
Wood: “I think it’s just structural, how it holds up. You want to see today — how it gets hit, if I’m still fine to play on it, if it’s not bothering me. Go again — if it’s bothering me watching the ball, bothering me dribbling the ball. So things of that matter.”
How did it respond today?
Wood: “Good. I’m ready to go.”
But Jared Dudley ripped you on one defensive possession in that post-practice scrimmage there …
Wood: “[Laughing] He ripped my thumb! Seeing if it still works. It’s still good.”