LAS VEGAS – As most of the Warriors Summer League roster endures team drills and scrimmages at Sierra Vista High School southwest of The Strip, Festus Ezeli is back to an old habit.
He's working out alone, off to the side.
And he's profoundly displeased about it.
"Just finding ways to get better,'' Ezeli said Thursday. "Working on my ballhandling, working on my touch around the rim. I'm past the frustration stage, really, so it's about getting better and getting ready for next season.''
Ezeli is isolated from his summer teammates because exams exposed inflammation in his right shin. The Warriors have decided to play it conservatively and, barring a total absence of pain, will hold him out during the 11-day Summer League schedule.
"It's (painful) when the doctors push on it,'' Ezeli said. "(Talk of missing additional time) is just misinformation. But it's something that could be much worse. They're just being precautionary. It's not going to prevent me from doing anything. But the fact that there's pain there, they just don't want to take any risks.''
As for his right knee, which underwent major surgery that sidelined him for the 2013-14 season, Ezeli says it has healed. He did not wear a brace while working out but said he will for games, mostly to provide cushion and support in case of contact.
Meanwhile, Ezeli, entering his third season, said the ordeal has been an eye-opener.
"I never thought I'd be able to sit in a suit for 100 games,'' he said, adding that he became a better teammate last season while observing centers Andrew Bogut and Jermaine O'Neal.
"Things are becoming clearer,'' Ezeli said. "When you watch games over and over, you see a pattern. You see how plays develop, what makes a good play develop. As a big man, just watching those guys, they're veterans in the league and just seeing what they do that has made them so successful.''
Ezeli said he stayed busy by focusing on improving his passing and catching, as well as the touch on his shot.
Yet there were times when he really, really wanted to play, especially in the playoffs
"They literally had to hold me back,'' he said. "You think I'm kidding, but no, I came in the gym for one of the games and I was like, 'I'm playing.'
"But this is all part of the process. Eventually, someday, we're going to think about this and laugh. And say, `Oh, wow.' People have used the Blake Griffin analogy, talking about how he went through that his rookie year and sat a whole year and came back and was stronger and better for it. So I'm working so that it can be the same case here.''