It’s been more than a month since Brandon Ingram last took the floor.
There’s still no timeframe for his return.
The New Orleans Pelicans forward said Thursday that he’s still recovering from a left toe contusion, and that he’s waiting to get his “confidence” back before he’s cleared to play.
"Confidence in pushing off," Ingram said when asked what’s holding him back. "Confidence in being back to who I want to be. Trying to be explosive, trying to just be myself. That's the biggest thing. If I don't feel like myself, then I know it's not time to be on the floor."
Ingram has averaged 20.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in 15 games this season, his fourth with the Pelicans. The 25-year-old hasn’t played since Nov. 25, when he appeared to injure his toe after tripping while pushing the ball up the court.
Though he didn’t break his toe, Ingram’s recovery has been lengthy. He has sustained multiple setbacks, something that’s been admittedly frustrating. Sometimes he feels ready to return, other days he says it’s a struggle.
“It’s hard to tell. Some days I feel really, really good, and recovery is bad," Ingram said. "Some days, recovery is good. So whenever I feel 100%, I'll give it a go. But it's hard to say right now."
New Orleans, thanks to a huge recent surge from Zion Williamson, is on a four-game win streak and holds a 20-12 record, which is best in the Western Conference. For a team that has made it out of the first round of the playoffs just once in the past 15 seasons, expectations are understandably high.
While Ingram will undoubtedly make a big impact on that quest when he returns to the court, Ingram and head coach Willie Green are trying to keep the bigger picture in sight, no matter how frustrating that may be.
“It’s been a slow process for him,” Green said. “He’ll just continue to work, but it’s been tough on him … We’re building toward being a competitive team now in the regular season, but also postseason. We want to get him back healthy. That’s the main deal for us is get back healthy. We don’t want a ton of setbacks, so he’s progressing."