By Jessica Camerato
BOSTON - As the Celtics lose player after player to the injury bug, one is optimistic for his return.
Delonte West believes he could be back out on the court next month.
"I might be back a lot sooner than people think," he told CSNNE.com following the Celtics-Hawks game. "I'm pushing for mid-January."
West has been sidelined since breaking his right (non-shooting) wrist on November 24 against the New Jersey Nets.
Even though there is no timetable set for his return and there were initial projections that West could miss the majority of the regular season, West believes he will be back sooner than that.
"I feel wonderful, first and foremost," he said. "I use a bone stimulator for 10 hours a day. I get this cast off in two weeks, but I've already started conditioning, shooting jumpers and working out already."
He says there are no medical restrictions to the number of shots he can take. There is, however, a signal of when he should stop . . . and it isn't pain.
"I can shoot as much as I want to," he said. "It's just that the more I sweat, the more my hand starts to stink, so I try to keep it at a minimum. But as soon as I get this cast off it's all about rehabilitation from there, seeing how weak the hand actually is."
The next steps in West's recovery process will be determined after his current cast is removed. There is no question he would like to get back on the floor, but he has to think with his head and not with his heart.
West had played in just five games this season after serving a 10-game suspension from a guilty plea to weapons charges stemming from last season. He was averaging nearly seven points in 18 minutes before his injury and was a critical spark off the Celtics bench.
But he isn't the only one sidelined - the Celtics were down to nine players by the end of Thursday's game. Even though the team could use more bodies, West knows he can't rush his recovery. A premature return could result in more problems down the road.
"It'd be more than the perfect Christmas gift," he said of a mid-January return, "But I can't get ahead of myself. The most important thing is the longevity. I know all the guys would love to have me back and I want to be back, but I don't want to rush it and hurt myself again. It still time remains to see what it feels like when I take this cast off."
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