Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Collison Ready to Return

Sonics big man Nick Collison went through practice with the team Tuesday and will return to the lineup Wednesday, when the Sonics play host to the Los Angeles Clippers (7:30 p.m., FSN, KTTH 770 AM, tickets).

"I felt a little winded today, but I think that's to be expected," Collison said after practice. "Otherwise, I feel fine. I don't really feel rusty or anything. I've put up a lot of shots the last few days. I feel good."

"Nick being back is definitely a good thing," said Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo.

After the swelling around his nose went down, Sonics doctors determined that Collison did not need his nose to be reset. He did have it reset when he broke his nose in 2004-05, but that fracture occurred in the middle of the nose; this time, it was off to the side on the right nasal wall.

Collison will have to adjust to wearing a protective facemask for at least the next three weeks or so, but having worn one three years ago, he's already gotten over the experience.

"That first time, the mask didn't fit at first and it was pressed against my nose - I couldn't breathe," recalled Collison. "The first game we played, against Houston, I freaked out and threw it into the crowd - didn't even throw it to the bench, I threw it into the crowd. (Athletic trainer) Mike (Shimensky) made me come out, the ballboy got it and I put it back on."

Afterwards, Collison got a new facemask made which fit better, and he played well during the month-plus he wore the mask during his rookie season, so it should not be an issue now.

"I freaked out the first day," Collison said, "but since then I was fine and I feel fine with it now, so I don't think it will be a big deal. It's just kind of an inconvenience."

- Delonte West watched the final part of practice from the sidelines, bothered by plantar fasciitis that affected his right foot. Officially, West is considered a game-time decision against the Clippers.

"He went through most of the practice," noted Carlesimo. "He got hurt at the tail end. Mike just told me when it happened that he hurt something and he was going to get looked at later, so I don't know."

If West is unable to play, Earl Watson would step back into the starting lineup, but the bigger question would be backing up Watson given Luke Ridnour's injury. Mickaƫl Gelabale worked at the point opposite Watson late in practice, and would probably be next in line at the position. Gelabale played point forward at times last year in practice, but never saw time as the lead guard in a game. Damien Wilkins, who started three games at point guard during the 2005-06 season, would also be an option.

Carlesimo left the door open for the possibility of Ridnour making his return, though that possibility is unlikely. Still, Ridnour has made strides recently and is nearing a return from the torn quad which has kept him out the last three weeks.

"Maybe Mike will throw him in 10-minute mode," Carlesimo offered. "I doubt it, because he didn't let him go today, but he did some stuff - he did some 5-on-0 and he did a little bit of practice.

"Evidently, they're a lot more encouraged the last few days then they've been. I think they're starting to push him a little bit."

- Carlesimo was pleased with how the Sonics responded coming off of a tough loss on Sunday after an extremely light workout on Monday.

"We had an excellent practice," he said. "When you practice the way we practiced today, you're going to get better."