PHOENIX — Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe took his first significant step toward a return this season, playing three-on-three basketball near the end of practice Monday.
Up until this point, his on-court work had been limited to individual and one-one-one drills.
“It felt great,” he said.
Bledsoe is six weeks removed from surgery, in which he underwent an arthroscopic procedure involving meniscus cartilage in his right knee on January 10.
“Oh man, I was a little bit rusty for the most part,” he said of the closed workout. “I appreciate my teammates for coming out and helping me.”
Bledsoe scrimmaged in games with teammates Dionte Christmas, Archie Goodwin, Alex Len, Slava Kravtsov and Miles Plumlee.
“For being out as long as he is and that’s probably his first real action going against other guys, he looked pretty good,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “This is when it becomes a question how tomorrow, when he wakes up, how it feels; and if it feels okay, then they’ll continue to do that and hopefully get him back.”
Despite the long layoff, Bledsoe said he surprised himself with how well his speed and quickness returned, a credit to the training staff.
“I can see why they say they’re the best medical staff in the league,” he said.
Bledsoe, who has missed 31 of 55 games, admitted to being “a little bit relieved” after the roughly 30-minute workout. He added, however, that at no point did the knee cause him any hesitation.
The plan now, according to Hornacek, is for Bledsoe — as long as the knee responds well — to progress to full court five-on-five perhaps as early as next week.
“We’ve got to have some full-out five-on-five practices so he can go up and down and scrimmage that way,” said Hornacek, who has indicated the fourth-year point guard would need three-to-four practices before returning to game action. “We don’t need to rush him back. We’ll welcome him whenever he can get back. We don’t want to push him.”
The Suns went 16-8 with Bledsoe averaging career highs in points (18.0), assists (5.8) and rebounds (4.3).
“I’m just taking my time. I’m going to continue to be one of the biggest cheerleaders out there on the bench,” Bledsoe said. “(Rehab) is very hard, by far. You’ve got come in pretty much consistently do the same thing every day. It definitely gets boring, tiring, whatever you want to call it; but the focus and the bigger picture is so much better. You’ve just got to look forward to that.”