Warriors second-year center Festus Ezeli gradually made his way from stop to stop at the Golden State’s annual Media Day on Friday. Known for his athleticism and strength, he was reduced to a ginger pace.
“This is my first time walking without my brace,” Ezeli said.
Ezeli had right knee surgery in June. Per the team, doctors went in to “reinforce both the medial collateral ligament and posterior cruciate ligament…” He was initially expected to be out six to nine months and Ezeli said he is still on that track.
So for now, the beast is tamed. Ezeli said the task for him is to trust the process and get healthy. But part of him knew this was coming. He sprained his knee in the regular season finale at Portland. He said he was in serious pain throughout the playoffs but still averaged 11 minutes per game in the postseason wearing a protective brace.
“I had to do what I had to do,” Ezeli said, pounding his chest with his fist. “We were on a mission.”
He said he didn’t know the injury was this serious, but he knew enough to not put off surgery. That could make him available as soon as January instead of costing him the entire season.
* First off, center Ognjen Kuzmic is not little. Secondly, his English is much better than he let on. (That he told us in clear English “my English is not so good” should’ve been the first tip).
“I’m here now,” Kuzmic, 23, said. “I’m like happy because everything is done.”
The rookie big man is finally a Warrior. His buyout from his pro team in Spain is complete. The 7-foot-1, 251 pound Bosnian, who Golden State drafted with the No. 52 overall pick in 2012, signed his first NBA contract on Friday. It’s a two-year deal for the league minimum.
GM Bob Myers said earlier this week, Kuzmic spot is guaranteed. With center Festus Ezeli on the shelf due to a knee injury, Kuzmic could be looking at minutes as the third-string center.
* Former lottery pick Joe Alexander has been added to the Warriors’ training camp roster. The 6-foot-8, 230-pounder out of West Virginia, missed last season with a hamstring injury. Before that, he averaged 8.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in a Russian League.
Alexander was originally drafted No. 8 overall by Milwaukee in 2008, ahead of Brook Lopez and Roy Hibbert, both of whom have been All-Stars for the Nets and Pacers respectively. He played for three teams in three seasons (the Bucks, Bulls and Hornets) before being relegated to the NBA Development League.