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Target return dates for Nuggets: Birdman Dec. 1, Martin on New Years Day

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On the night of New Year’s day, when your hangover is finally gone and you settle in for a disappointing Fiesta Bowl featuring Oklahoma and Utah, something else may catch your attention.

Kenyon Martin may be back in an NBA game.

George Karl said Tuesday that he hoped to have Martin back by Jan. 1, and Chris Anderson back a month earlier, according to the official Nuggets twitter account.

Martin has said he’s not racing back from offseason knee surgery, which will mean more minutes for Al Harrington in the short term. But as frustrated as Martin may be this is a contract year for him, so having a bad attitude or making the knee surgery look worse than it actually was does not benefit him.

With a healthy front line of the Birdman, Martin, Nene and Harrington the Nuggets are one of the few teams that could at least challenge the Lakers front line. But that is a long way off and a lot of things could change in Denver between now and then.