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Aaron Falk, Tony Jones and Steve Luhm cover the Utah Jazz and the NBA for The Salt Lake Tribune. The Tribune on Twitter - Aaron Falk: @tribjazz, Steve Luhm: @sluhm, Tony Jones: @Tjonessltrib

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Interview — Jazz's Okur on lost season, rehab, future

Jazz center Mehmet Okur discusses his injury-plagued 2010-11 season prior to tipoff tonight against New Orleans.

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Okur on how and what he has been doing since it was announced March 16 that he would shut down for the rest of the year: I'm good. Doing rehab three times a week. … I'm going to be here, no doubt. I'm going to have to get rehab anyway three times a week. I just want to be around my team and my teammates. Obviously I can't really travel with the team; I have to stay. But I'm doing good. Playing basketball without playing basketball. No pain, no soreness. I just want to get better. Hopefully the plan is be ready come the first time of training camp.

When he realized it was not going to work out this season: I tried. I kept trying day in and day out. It didn't work out. And I'm one of those guys who really don't like to sit. And this year really didn't go well for me. Everything's downhill for me. I'm old. Not that old. I tried everything and we tried everything — everybody did a great job. It just didn't work out. I had to sit back and get better.

Back pain returning March 15 during off-day practice in Minneapolis: I was feeling great a few days before that. I kept practice; kept up everyday. But that day it got worse and I had to sit down. And we realized it's not going anywhere. The smart thing was just to shut me down and get rehab and get ready to go next year.

Achilles troubles: I couldn't play any basketball this year, to be honest. I tried to practice … with the team. I tried everything. I tried everything to make it strong in my left leg. And obviously if you don't play out there basketball in 5-on-5 or scrimmage, whatever, it's not really getting bigger and stronger. Probably left leg started cheating after 20-25 minutes during practice, then everything go to my right side. I couldn't realize it because I was feeling good. But after practice, after the games, it started getting worse and worse; my back. Then we realized it probably start from the left leg, because surgery then really make me feel a lot worse.

Any doubt he will return: I should be OK. I'm not that old. I'm 32. It's going to be a huge summer for me and obviously I'm going to keep getting rehab, especially start from my left leg and make it stronger and then back. I can't wait.

Thoughts about retiring: I'm not that old. I've got a few more years I can give my best. At least until 35, 36, and kind of go from there.

Current rehab: Not so much card. Just kind of ab and back exercising; different motions, different movements. Nothing jumping, nothing basketball. Takes about 90 minutes a day three times a week. I would say so far so good.

Struggles capture Jazz's problems: Obviously Jerry, he resigned. They had to let Deron go. It's been a rough year. And trade-wise … we brought a couple new faces on the team — not good time to get used to the system. We need to just go out there and play right away with the new guys, stuff like that. Including myself, other couple players. It's been rough obviously. We still have a lot of games to play and hopefully at this we're going to end up eighth place and make the playoffs.

Tough to shut it down: To be honest, it wasn't really easy for me. But if you look at the bright side I felt OK. If no basketball, I can more focus on my back. As long as I'm not jumping or coming down or running and stopping — those kind of movements really bother me.

Pushed too hard: I tried to come back too quick, because I was really hungry to play basketball. It's been 10 months, no basketball for me. I only play like two scrimmage. I just want to go out there and play. It wasn't really a good thing about coming back early. But I wasn't thinking right because I was hungry and I just wanted to be on the floor and play. If you go back 11 months ago, I wouldn't have done the same thing. I would've wait to get 100 percent then I could play.

Plans: Hopefully I'll go back to Turkey after second, third round of [NBA] playoffs. If not, I'm going to go right after season.

— Brian T. Smith

Twitter: @tribjazz



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