In a bit of good news after last night’s debacle in Memphis, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported something of keen interest to Bucks’ fans a few minutes ago:
ESPN Sources: After nearly 10 months of rehabilitation on a torn left ACL, Milwaukee Bucks forward Joe Ingles is targeting his return vs. New Orleans on Monday. Once Ingles successfully completes a final 5-on-5 workout Saturday, that’ll be the last hurdle in his comeback.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 16, 2022
As Woj mentions, this would be just shy of ten months since Ingles last appeared in an NBA game with Utah on January 30th. After sustaining a left ACL tear in that contest (diagnosed the next day), the Jazz sent the big Aussie and his expiring deal to the Blazers for Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Ingles went under the knife on February 23rd and has been rehabbing ever since, never appearing in a Portland uniform.
He was in the midst of a down year with Utah. averaging 7.2 PPG, 3.5 APG, and 2.9 RPG on .404/.347/.773 shooting. That’s a significant dropoff compared to his numbers over the previous four seasons with the Jazz (11.4 PPG, 5.1 APG, 3.9 RPG on .461/.420/.777 shooting), which included finishing runner-up to teammate Jordan Clarkson for Sixth Man of the Year in 2021.
In the offseason, the Bucks used the taxpayer portion of their midlevel exception to sign Ingles to a one-year, $6.48m contract. Going in, they knew that he’d miss a significant chunk of the season’s early portion rehabbing his knee, but the pre-2021–22 version of Jingles looked exactly like what the Bucks were lacking at the end of last season: a big man who can create on offense, sink shots from deep, and has the size to defend larger wings.
GM Jon Horst said at media day that he expected Ingles to return in January, thinking that December was too optimistic. However, just last week he began taking shots in pregame warmups and was twice assigned to the Wisconsin Herd last week for practice reps. Now it appears that if his 5-on-5 goes well, he’ll see his first action as a Milwaukee Buck in New Orleans on Monday. Just shy of eleven months after the initial injury and ten months post-operation, this is a pretty fast timetable for an ACL recovery, let alone for a 6’8” 35-year-old. Ingles never relied on speed or athleticism to be an effective player, so perhaps the lingering effects won’t impact his game much.
With the recently returned Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton both struggling, plus Jrue Holiday’s continued absence with whatever non-COVID illness has been working its way through the team. a more fully-healthy roster sure will be welcome for the Bucks. We’ll see how practice goes for Ingles, but things are looking up, and just in time.