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Warriors’ Festus Ezeli cleared to play, improving his explosiveness, expects return to action in Las Vegas

SANTA ROSA — Warriors center Festus Ezeli said Monday he has been cleared to play after spending all of this season recovering from right knee surgery and that he expected to be in action at the Las Vegas Summer League next month.

“They think it’s a good idea, so I probably will,” Ezeli said of the Warriors at the team’s basketball camp for children at Sonoma Day Country School.

“Just go to Vegas, get some touches and get my rhythm back. Just get back to playing. Get back to being comfortable on the court.”

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The 6-foot-11 Ezeli would join a summer league team that’s expected to include Ognjen Kuzmic and Nemanja Nedovic. He said he has played pickup games in the Sacramento area since the end of the season and noticed an improvement in one particular area since he was sidelined throughout the playoffs.

“Explosiveness,” he said. “I’m getting it back. I’m actually trying to add more to it.”

This week marks the one-year anniversary of offseason surgery reinforce both the MCL and PCL in his knee that was sprained during the Warriors’ regular-season finale in 2013. The team’s medical staff at that time estimated a recovery of at least six to nine months, but Ezeli was ultimately lost for this season coming off his rookie year.

A Warriors first-round draft pick in 2012, Ezeli averaged 2.4 points, 4 rebounds and nearly 1 block while playing in 78 games and starting 41 of them. He recently met with new coach Steve Kerr.

“He knows what I bring to the table, and he’s excited to coach me,” Ezeli said. “I’m excited for a new year to actually finally be playing. It’s going to be fun.

“We’ve got to buy into Steve Kerr because we all want to win, so I know we’ll all do that.”

Diamond Leung

  • Stan

    Lacob should give out the Bob Fitzgerald motivational tapes to every player. “You are a Warrior. You are part of the greatest franchise ever. You are the greatest player -ever.” etc,etc,

    Soon to be found at every flea market bin.

  • sunshipballoons

    Glad he’s back and feeling explosive. Now he just needs to learn where he’s supposed to be on the court.

  • ssclesq

    He was a work in progress when drafted. He’s still raw but I’d take him over speights and oneal in a heart beat.

  • Twinkie defense

    You should go root for ESPN, obviously you’re a Mark Jackson fan and not a Warriors fan.

  • Stan

    That’s THREE broken down centers.. Festus still skinny as a rail? Well,Meyers has no constraints on centers to trade for Love if Minnesota asks. Meyers tricked somebody into taking Beidrens..c’mon Bob!..you did it before and you can do it again. I should write a song like that.

  • Stan

    “The old, you’re not a fan to point out where we go stupid trick” huh chief? I beg to differ.

  • Gwydion Rhys

    Festus? Skinny? In what world?

  • flaninerfan

    Badriens. has anyone ever been paid so much for doing so little!

  • Stan

    WHat? You deleted my observation on how Tim Kawakami seems to avoid any Joe Lacob morals?..I guess Tim is now pressuring the rest of the Merc sports writers to suppress the truth? Typical of him. He knows of my superior intellect over him. Why deny that?

  • Stan

    We get Love..and Joe has proves once again,money CAN buy love…and a stadium.

  • BananaSpartan

    What do you think it’ll take to get Love? I like him a lot, too, but wondering if he’ll still be available when the season starts, when Minnesota will likely be more desperate to trade him (and may take less to trade him). Or will Love go on draft day? Some teams have the 1st round picks to include in a package.
    I just hope they don’t trade Klay to get him.

  • Stan

    Klay last year went on something like a 1 for 60 cold streak. Meyers can find a whole lot of guys who would be happy to just shoot. I mean,Klay as a rookie pretty much was 80% a Monta Ellis- right?
    Any package deal for Love is a plus move for the Warriors,even if Klay goes with it. Its not a step back in any way.
    There are not many teams Love would be happy to go too and stay with. The Warriors cannot let opportunity slip away.

  • BananaSpartan

    I see your point with this. I hate the idea of losing Klay, because I think as a 2-way SG, he’s quite good (and the Warriors need someone to guard the guy Curry can’t). But the thought of Love playing with Curry and Bogut, for starters, is quite intriguing. I’m not sure there’s a better Big 3 if they’re all healthy. And if the Warriors were to get Love, they have to give up something.
    It’s interesting to see what Barnes has been asked to do this off season. He obviously needs to improve, regardless, but it appears that he might be working on things that would allow him to play more at SG (he would sort of replace Klay if traded, with Iguadala also playing SG). So you like the potential starting lineup of:
    1. Curry
    2. Iguodala
    3. Barnes
    4. Love
    5. Bogut
    For now, this leaves a bench of:
    1. Nedovic
    2. Crawford
    3. Green
    4. Speights (I could see him as a stretch 4 off the bench, always playing along a true 5), Armstrong
    5. Ezeli, Kuzmic
    I’m assuming there will be a small trade and a free agent signing to get to 15 on the roster. If the trade is made for love, that leaves a really thin bench.
    I do want counter your comment about Klay/Monta. I was not a Monta fan after his first couple of seasons. To me, a big difference is that Klay has improved, dramatically, in each of his 3 seasons. Monta improved slightly and may have regressed some after awhile. Klay is 4 inches taller, plays better defense, and is a better outside shooter. Klay could also continue to improve (I don’t think he’s peaked yet).

  • Stan

    My god,that’s a killer lineup..when healthy. And motivated..Don’t sell that short. I see that now,as a big part of NBA coaching. An “intangible” of coaching Jackson had a surplus of, btw..

  • thewarriorsrule

    don’t feed the troll :)

  • thewarriorsrule

    don’t reply to stan. he doesn’t make any sense.

  • thewarriorsrule

    i would actually rather depart with klay than barnes. i see more upside in barnes’ potential. think he has the physical tools to be an even better defender than klay, and barnes’ 3 pt shooting is actually quite good. barnes’ and love’s 3 pt shooting can replace klay’s. and i agree with stan, that roster with love and barnes in there looks much better than it does now. iggy at sg can guard the guys that curry can’t. i sure hope the warriors are not overvaluing klay and losing a chance on getting love!

  • BananaSpartan

    In the last day or so, I’ve thought about this. If the Warriors must trade either Klay or Barnes (in this case to get Love), I’ve been thinking that I’d rather trade Klay. Barnes has a ton of upside. I also follow an adage that a team (unless presented with something like acquiring LeBron or Durant), should not trade a promising player who is not yet 4 or preferably 5 years removed from his high school graduation. So many players (Garnett, Kobe, and Jermaine O’Neal are a few examples) do not seem to blossom into most of what they’ll be until they’re around 23 years old. When I watched Barnes in the 2013 playoffs, replacing Lee at PF, I saw glimpses of the better parts of Carmelo Anthony. I still think Barnes has the upside to be a Top-10 player. He’s versaile enough, potentially, to play SG, SF, and PF. Aside from confidence, which I hope Kerr can rebuild, my biggest concerns mechanically are his dribbling and his jumper. His shot can get flat at times, and he won’t be able to play multiple positions without improved dribbling. But if the mechanics are polished and the confidence rebuilt, his athleticism I feel, is unmatched.

    It’s possible that one thing Barnes needs is to move into the starting rotation. A trade for Love would do that for him (whether it’s Klay being traded and he starts for the Warriors, or he’s traded to Minnesota and he starts for the Timberwolves).

  • thewarriorsrule

    agree! barnes is still young and has the tools to be great, so let’s not give up on him just yet. i remember those playoff games too, that’s just proof of what he can become. and i totally thought that he could become a melo as well, and yes he’s versatile to play sg/sf/pf! yes, i hope kerr can rebuilt his confidence as well. i thought barnes looked awesome in summer league before this year started. there was one game where he started over klay and i thought both players played terrific in their roles. but barnes got injured and then after that jackson never experimented with klay as 6th man, which i thought was very very lame. i am so happy to see that ego-maniac go away. barnes worked on his handles last year and he’s going to work on it again this year. i am so relieved to finally see jackson go. i had gripes with him ever since he kept pulling ezeli in his rookie year, even when he did good. watching the spurs right now, i really hope kerr can instill the same ball movement and spacing for the warriors! unfortunately i think minny is not wanting to trade love anymore, so it’s too late. warriors overvalued their own players again. they said that klay was “untradeable”. come on? really? this reminds me of when we coulda got kg, but we didn’t. sigh….. c’mon lacob! listen to jerry west. he is saying it’s safe to trade klay to get love. c’mon!…