Injured Magic forward Al Harrington says he will play before the NBA trade deadline of Feb. 21 and realizes he could be on the move again.
"I'm gonna play," Harrington said after Tuesday's practice in which he was limited to shooting and a light half-court jog.
"I know the only way they can move me is to show I'm healthy. I haven't been on the court yet … but wherever I am, I'm going to give 100 percent."
He says there is a target date in mind for his return, but added, "everything is top secret. But I'm on schedule."
Harrington, 32, acquired in the Dwight Howard deal from the Denver Nuggets, has yet to play this season after undergoing a series of surgical procedures on his right knee this summer.
He knows there's a good chance the youthful, rebuilding Magic will try to trade him, which is why he changed his mind about buying a house and making Orlando his offseasonhome.
Best guess is that Harrington will come back, if his knee cooperates, in late January or early February. He'll have to pass a physical. He says he has no swelling and is increasing his workload.
He could be attractive to a team that needs a tough veteran scorer.
Harrington, 6-9, 245 pounds, can play both forward spots. He has averaged 13.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game over his 14-year career.
He also has a modest salary by NBA standards, making $6.6 million this season. The next two years of his deal are at $7.1 million and $7.6 million, but only partially guaranteed, perhaps half the total.
Last season Harrington scored a season-high 31 points with nine rebounds against the Minnesota Timberwolves and had 24 points and eight boards against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Harrington said he missed a training camp for the first time in his career, battling his most serious injury.
After undergoing routine arthroscopic surgery, he was hit with a dangerous staph infection. He needed three more procedures to clear up the problem.
"When (staph infections) get to the blood, it's serious," Harrington said. "I'm the type of guy who can go through a lot of pain, but I knew this was different right away. I don't know how it happens in this day and age. It shouldn't happen, but it does."
Harrington has experienced the isolation most players feel when they are on long rehab missions.
"I don't feel like I'm part of the team yet," he said. "I'm working out in the morning and working out at night, driving 45 minutes from Lake Mary (to Dr. Phillips area). That's the walk I'm walking. I want to play. I'm committed. I want that out there. I'm going stir crazy. People don't understand how tough it is not doing something you love.
"This is foreign to me. It worries me to know how far behind I am. I wonder if I can get my timing back. I think I can."
Harrington is willing to stay with the Magic and come off the bench, but he could be taking playing time away from a pair of rookies, either small forward Maurice Harkless or power forward Andrew Nicholson.
In the next few weeks, the club also must decide on what role Hedo Turkoglu will play coming off a broken hand, considering Harkless has been starting at his small-forward spot.
Turkoglu said Tuesday he didn't know when he would return.
Harrington hopes he can hit his target date and continue his career. He would like to play 20 years, meaning he has another five to go.
"This is like getting a taste of what retirement is like," he said. "It stinks.. But what can I do?"Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun