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OAKLAND Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal, who last played on Dec. 9 and underwent wrist surgery on Dec. 13, said there is no target date for his return but he hopes to rejoin the team before the All-Star break.
"When they did the surgery, they said it could be anything from one month to three months," O'Neal said after Wednesday's loss to Denver. "It's been about a month and it's coming along pretty well. I'm hoping it's sooner, rather than later."
General manager Bob Myers said Wednesday that O'Neal's return date will be determined as much by available safeguards as the healing process.
"Jermaine, we hope, is somewhere between two and three weeks out," Myers said. "That would be the hope. But it depends on whether he's able to wear a brace or not and can he withstand a hit to that area."
O'Neal, who shed his cast about a week ago, says the pain is subsiding and that the range of motion in his right wrist and hand are greatly improved. Physical therapists are encouraging him to resume as many normal activities as possible and he has been able to follow most of those recommendations.
Meanwhile, the 18th-year veteran, who had become increasingly productive prior to being sidelined, is doing conditioning work and some light basketball drills, after which an ice pack is wrapped around his wrist and hand to minimize swelling.
On another injury front, Myers indicated that second-year backup center Festus Ezeli, who underwent knee surgery last June, is not likely to return before March.