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Solomon Hill injury update: Return may not be as imminent as New Orleans Pelicans hope

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Time to curb a lot of expectations?

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Kelley, the host of the Black and Blue report, invited Solomon Hill to be a guest on Monday’s episode, and the New Orleans Pelicans forward had some notable things to say about the recovery process from his torn hamstring injury, specifically a potential return date.

“Solomon, here’s the good news: I don’t think there’s a day that goes by right now that I don’t have Pelicans fans asking me, ‘When’s Solomon Hill coming back?’” questioned Kelley. “The bad news is I don’t really have an exact answer for them yet although I’m encouraged to say it seems close. How close at this point?”

“I couldn’t tell you either,” responded Hill. “It’s a tough thing. When I got injured, you know, how the injury has progressed and it’s kind of like a day-to-day thing. If this was something that I could recover over the summer, full summer, and then get a rhythm in, but we’re in the mix of what, we’ve won like the last ten out of eleven? We’re doing good, we’re doing great. The chemistry is kind of coming along. And I’m just trying to take it day to day.”

“Of course I want to be out there,” continued Hill. “Of course I want to play. But one thing I do know is that playing defense is something that takes a lot of energy — Not just a lot of energy, but your body has to be in a good enough position for you to be successful out there. We’re talking about if I played tonight, probably having to guard Donovan Mitchell. A guy that is really explosive. You look at whoever we’re playing, whether it’d be in the playoffs or whether it’d be at the end of this stretch, {it’s} all dynamic players. The West is very competitive so I just want to make sure everybody, even the staff, we all want to make sure that not only I can go out there and be okay but also that I can help the team as well.”

Solomon Hill went on to mention that he’s been doing two-a-days, trying to do whatever it takes to get back onto the court. However, he alluded to the challenge before him: returning to a New Orleans Pelicans team that has been leading the league in pace. Although he currently trusts his hamstring, he’s fully aware of the fact that the strength isn’t back to normal in his left leg.

“I trust it to where I don’t think about it,” said Hill. “Now, the strength, there’s a big difference between the left and right leg, of course. The left was my strong leg before the injury so I definitely got some ground to cover. I don’t think I’ll be 100% for another, I mean, maybe next season.”

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Later in the podcast, Hill compared his situation to Khris Middleton, a player who suffered a torn hamstring that required surgery two Septembers ago.

“I look at Khris Middleton’s surgery and what he was able to come back and do for his team. But everybody’s different. The tear’s not the same, the muscle and everything that’s torn off the bone. It’s two different guys that had the same similar type of surgery. And so that’s one thing I had to tell myself is that no matter how many weights I lift, how many times I can get on the court, it’s going to have to take time to heal on it’s own.”

Middleton was expected to be sidelined for about six months. After tearing his hamstring during the third week of September 2016, he returned to the Bucks lineup on the following February 8th, beating his initial timetable by almost a month and a half. Middleton went on to appear in 29 regular season games and six playoff games that season for Milwaukee.

In contrast, Hill tore his hamstring during the last week of August 2017 and we’re nearly seven months removed from that fateful day, yet Hill remains without a definitive return date. Although Head Coach Alvin Gentry recently stated that he expects Hill to be back “real soon,” potentially sometime during the next home stand beginning this coming Saturday, Hill’s interview on the Black and Blue Report sounded less optimistic.

Although this news is disappointing, no one should want to see Hill rush back for fear of provoking an additional injury. If he’s not ready, he’s not ready. It’s difficult to imagine a less than 100% Hill improving the Pelicans playoff odds, or once there, propelling the team on a deep run, so it’s great to hear New Orleans is on the same page.

“And like I said, we’ll always err on the side of caution more so than trying to speed up the process,” said Gentry in pregame media availability on Monday.

Maybe it’s best to eliminate all expectations and hope to be pleasantly surprised?