As the Milwaukee Bucks continue their preparations for the restart, hopes are growing that Eric Bledsoe is getting closer to rejoining the team.
With the Milwaukee Bucks set to play their first scrimmage game against the Sacramento Kings later this week, the prospect of the NBA’s league-leading squad getting their season back underway has never felt more real.
On that front, there’s also something of a race against time for the Bucks to get in the final work they need to do in order to get back up to speed.
For some, that journey is undoubtedly easier than others. Eric Bledsoe stands out as one of the most striking examples of a Buck who will have a more difficult path to regaining his rhythm, as his COVID-19 diagnosis has held up his basketball preparations, and to date prevented him from joining his teammates in Milwaukee.
On that front, the rumblings have been more positive in recent days, though.
Although Bledsoe still has to clear all of the NBA’s protocols for COVID-19 before being able to enter the bubble, there seems to be some optimism from the Bucks’ camp that their starting point guard is inching closer toward that point.
Having told the media earlier in the week that he expected Bledsoe to be available for the season restart, while acknowledging that the nature of the virus means that could still change, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer continued to voice his optimism on Bledsoe’s status in his Sunday availability.
As detailed by Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Budenholzer outlined that the Bucks would provide an update when Bledsoe clears the protocols, and that they felt that was likely to be sooner rather than later:
“The NBA has protocols that I think are trying to keep us all in our best place, our safest, to have a positive experience,” Budenholzer said. “When he clears those and when there’s something new to share with you guys we will, but we do feel like he’s on the closer end of the spectrum (to returning) than the longer.”
That means that as things stand, the Bucks’ focus is purely to figure out how to put Bledsoe in the best position they can, both in terms of his game and his health, as Budenholzer highlighted:
“Now, just trying how to figure out how we can best help Bled and make sure he’s healthy for not just the short term but for the long term.”
For all of Bledsoe’s playoff troubles over the past two seasons, there’s no doubting just how important he is to the Bucks. They almost certainly need a much improved version of Bledsoe to get their hands on a championship this season, but there’s no question that they need a healthy Bledsoe with them to even contend in the first place.