Sam Mitchell very strongly believes Nikola Pekovic is still rusty

Pekovic has been one of the NBA's more intimidating players for a long while.
Jim Mone/Jim Mone/AP

Sam Mitchell doesn’t seem like he’ll ever hold back what he really thinks about something. That’s why when a reporter asked him recently if he thought Nikola Pekovic was still rusty after returning from an Achilles injury that sidelined him for almost 10 months, he was fully engaged in backing his player.

From Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press:

“How many games has he played? Do I really need to answer that?” Mitchell said. “I mean, you guys give me a hard time because you say I'm kind of prickly, but Pek has not played in a year.

“After (five) games and we don't get to practice because we play every other day, you ask me has Pek scraped off the rust? He is limited to 18 minutes a game, and I'm the person that's prickly. Did that answer your question?”

“I don't think in 18 minutes in (five) games he's going to scrape it off,” Mitchell concluded.

Pekovic has averaged only 14.7 minutes per game since returning. He’s not playing in the second half of back-to-backs either, alternating with Kevin Garnett in which contest he’ll participate. He’s averaged 6.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in those minutes, but he still does clearly look rusty.

That’s fine. It’s expected. What else could you possibly think you’d see from a player in the early stages of returning from a serious lower-body injury? 

Apparently, Mitchell agrees.