Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice.
Al Horford said Thursday he is “frustrated” by his progress as he works to return from surgery to repair a torn left pectoral muscle.
The Hawks All-Star center went through a full-contract practice with the team.
“Today was the first chance I actually got to play 3-on-3 half-court with the guys and I’m not where I need to be,” Horford said following the workout. “I had a deadline in my mind that I wanted to be back by the last game of the regular season … but I’m not where I need to be. That is a little frustrating for me.
“I’m going to keep trying to work, but I’m not there yet.”
The Hawks have four games remaining in the regular season with the finale a week from today. Horford didn’t put a timetable on his return nor did he offer the chances he could return in time for the start of the playoffs. The postseason would begin for the Hawks either April 28 or 29. However, he made it clear he would continue to work in hopes of seeing the necessary improvements.
“It’s awkward just because this is only the third time I’ve played with contact,” Horford said. “Once you get moving and doing different stuff that is when you start to realize [how far you have to go] and I feel limited. Any chance we get to practice, I want to get in there. It’s hard because I can’t expect guys to come out and practice just for me. They play every other day. If we get a full practice I’m going to try to get out there and keep progressing.”
Horford said that while he has been working on his game during the rehabilitation process, it’s the physical condition of his shoulder and the nature of the NBA that is the biggest concern.
“When you play in the post you have to have a level of physicality and you have to naturally be able to bang with another player and I’m not confident doing things like that yet,” Horford said. “The other thing is really keeping [my left] arm above [my shoulder] for a certain period of time, that is another weak point for me. Keeping my hands up defensively and if I can’t do that, I’m going to be in trouble. The last thing I want to do is hurt the team.
“It’s very frustrating because I was doing everything on schedule, my rehab was going well. … It’s just tough.”
Hawks coach Larry Drew said Horford will continue to work with the team and that the decision on when he will be able to return rests with the center.
“When he tell us,” Drew said of Horford’s availability.