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D’Angelo Russell: Still a ways away

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Kenny Atkinson didn’t give reporters an official update on D’Angelo Russell’s return from arthroscopic knee surgery November 17, but in his remarks, he left little doubt that Russell is still a long way from suiting up ... even if he’s on the Nets Mexico trip and was seen on the court shoot around.

“No update as of now. I know he was working with our performance group today, working on his core strength, hamstring strength, but it’s hard for me to put a stage on it,” Atkinson said Wednesday. “He’s not running yet.”

Russell, wearing a sleeve on his left knee, said he believes things are going well, but admitted he understands the need for caution.

“It’s been going well. Every day has been a grind. I’d rather be back sooner than later. … It’s a day-to-day process and I’m attacking it every day,” Russell said. “I’m doing a lot of stuff. I’m in the weight room. They have a lot of stuff planned out for me. If I’m running one day, I may be walking the next. It’s all a plan.

“I’ve done a lot of things to test it. A full-out sprint, I’m two weeks out of surgery so I don’t think that’d be the smartest thing to do. But there’s been other ways to test it ... hamstrings, glutes, core, multiple things.”

DLo explained running isn’t the only hurdle ahead.

“A basketball game isn’t just running,” Russell said. “It’s stopping, going, twisting, turning. A lot of things that go into that. When I’m up to par with that is when I’ll be ready.”

Meanwhile, Russell has been a big presence in Mexico City. He showed his knowledge of Mexico’s basketball heritage by recognizing the name of Jorge Gutierrez, the former Net.

“Gutierrez?” Russell said. “He went to Cal. Yeah, he’s good.”

Gutierrez’s two stints with the Nets, when he was a fan favorite, may help the Nets when the Mexico City arena is filled with 23,000 fans. Eduardo Najera, another Mexican hoops legend, also played with the Nets.