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IC Cold Links: Dunleavy Could Be Back Sooner Rather Than Later

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The general consensus has been that Indiana Pacers fans will not see Mike Dunleavy on the court again until January 2010. But if you're the optimistic type, Dunleavy's comments in today's story in the Indianapolis Star may give you some hope of seeing the forward earlier than expected.

Dunleavy, who has expressed a positive attitude all summer long about his recovery from season-ending knee surgery, told Mike Wells that he has a "gut feeling" that he'll be dressed in the blue and gold jersey some time before January. The Pacers organization has never released an official expected return date, but coach Jim O'Brien originally noted that he didn't expect Dunleavy back until 2010 or midway through the 09-10 season.

Dunleavy said:

"We still have a ways to go and we don't know how this thing is going to shake out, but I'm optimistic. January is a nice cushion for me. It takes all the pressure off, but I'm certainly working my tail off to get back a lot sooner than that. Every once in a while I may get some pain, but that's to be expected with these types of injuries and surgeries. They basically told me that it could be up to a year where I'm still feeling a little something in there. But certainly compared to where it was, it's a world of difference.

I have to hold myself back at times. I want to do more than they are allowing me to do. I understand the process, though. I have to be patient. I love playing basketball. Right now I would be playing pickup games. Guys were in the other day playing. I was just sitting there on the sidelines watching. That was tough to do."

I have never been the optimistic type when regarding Dunleavy's injury. The combination of the Pacers history with knee injuries (Jermaine O'Neal and the recently "risen from the dead zombie" Jonathan Bender), the secrecy behind his recovery process, and the additional "minor" surgery just a month ago made me very skeptical that things were going well. It's also been hard to expect Dunleavy to return to his pre-injury self.

But with every blog post that Dunleavy writes, he sure does sell it like the recovery is going well. Maybe he's the ultimate PR machine, but at least you get the sense that Dunleavy is truly doing everything possible to be ready by the start of the season. Wait a second! An Indiana Pacer doing everything possible to get back from injury? I guess the Jamaal Tinsley era is really behind us.

In other news today, the Pacers will announce the official signing of Solomon Jones to the press early this afternoon. That will be followed, in similar fashion to Tuesday's signing of Earl Watson, with a live chat for the fans at 2:30 p.m. on the Pacers Web site. Mike Wells is reporting that Jones will receive a two-year contract.

By the way, the Pacers reports of a "multi-year" deal with Watson on Tuesday seem to be false, as Mike Wells claimed. ESPN's Mark Stein agreed that he signed only a one-year, $2.8 million deal, and that's the number that sites such as Hoops Hype are putting down on their salaries page. Shout out to Eight Points, Nine Seconds for the sweet graphic examining the salary confusion. Very nice.