Pre-Game Media Availability: Stan Van Gundy on Players Returning from Injury and Trying to Crack the Rotation

Here are a few choice bits from Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy's availability session with the media before his team takes on the Milwaukee Bucks tonight.

Van Gundy saw parallels between Bucks guard Michael Redd's struggles to get back into a groove following two years' worth of nagging knee injuries and the difficulty Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis have had coming off injuries (in Nelson's case) and suspension (Lewis') this year.

You just need playing time and repetition. I see Michael Redd being very, very aggressive, looking to score, really... you can tell he's really trying to get his game going. At some point, he will be back to the Michael Redd of old. I just hope it can wait awhile. Not tonight.

It's not easy when you come back, and it's not easy because they've got new players. I think [it's] the same thing that Rashard went through last year. It's hard enough to come back off the injury but now you're coming back playing with guys you really haven't played a lot with. [Brandon] Jennings, [Ersan] Ilyasova... those guys haven't played a lot together. It's not an easy thing. There's no question about it.

Moments later, the conversation shifted to the topic of player development. Former Magic, Pistons, and Grizzlies center Darko Milicic, now collecting dust on the Knicks' bench, said teams tend to lie to their players about playing time and opportunity. Interestingly, Van Gundy mentioned the situation Magic power forward Brandon Bass, signed to a 4-year, $16 million deal this summer only to face several DNP-Coach's Decisions, is facing now:

I don't know that that's lying and I certainly don't know the specifics of Darko Milicic's case. I think that when you say that, the part that often isn't heard or doesn't wanna be heard is, 'Your time will come if you do certain things to get ready.' To me, there are guys--and again, I don't know Darko's case--that their time's never gonna come. Either they're not good enough, or they don't work hard enough, and the coach never sees a reason to play him.

And then there's other people, you know, like what Brandon's going through, to me, is very difficut. Because he's working very hard. He's playing well in practice. He's played well when he's gotten into games. And I've gone with Rashard [Lewis] and Ryan [Anderson] who are also playing well and working hard. That's a more difficult one, but there's a lot of cases where guys don't want to look at themselves as the reason for them not playing.

It's clear that Van Gundy has a healthy respect for Bass' work ethic and talent. The situation with Bass is worth monitoring because, according to sources cited by Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD last week, Bass is unhappy with his role with the team and might seek a trade if the situation doesn't improve.

But back to tonight's game: Van Gundy also discussed the importance of getting Dwight Howard involved on offense tonight, which you can read more about at the Orlando Sentinel.

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