The Trail Blazers got encouraging news on Maurice Harkless on Wednesday.
According to a Trail Blazers’ source, Harkless is “tracking toward a three-week timeline” in his return from left knee surgery, placing his possible return in the middle of the Blazers’ first round playoff series against New Orleans.
Harkless, who missed the final nine games of the regular season to clean out his left knee, was evaluated Wednesday before the Blazers’ regular season finale.
Minutes before the evaluation, Harkless said he was encouraged by the progress his knee was showing since the March 28 surgery. He said he had only done rehabilitation exercises and some light shooting.
“Making progress … I’m just taking it day-by-day now,’’ Harkless said. “I just don’t want to do too much, too fast. If I’m feeling good then we will try to do more, if it doesn’t feel good, then we will go back to the plan.’’
The Blazers will open the playoffs this weekend against New Orleans and will be in New Orleans for Games 3 and 4 in the middle of next week. The schedule will be released after tonight's game against Utah.
According to the source, the Blazers will not rush Harkless back because his game is predicated on athleticism, and they want him to feel comfortable and able to do everything in his repertoire.
“It literally just has to go on how I feel,’’ Harkless said. “If you ask me if I could play today – no. So, I just have to take it day-by-day.’’
Harkless was one of the catalysts in the Blazers’ mid-season turnaround, especially during their 13-game winning streak. In 12 games after the All-Star break, he averaged 10.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 59.5 percent fro the field and 54.5 percent from three-point range, all while playing stellar defense.
For the season, he averaged 6.5 points and 2.7 rebounds while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from three-point range.