OAKLAND -- Warriors All-Star forward David Lee said his hip surgery in May revealed his injury was worse than previously thought. But he reports being 100 percent recovered and in the best shape of his career.
"I feel no ill effects whatsoever," Lee said after working out at the team's downtown facility. "I actually feel a lot better moving around than I did even last year at this time."
For the second consecutive offseason, Lee and point guard Stephen Curry have rounded up most of their teammates to come back to Oakland early to work out together. They began Tuesday, and so far 10 players have shown up.
Lee, entering his ninth NBA season, already looks like he's in midseason form. In the process of rehabilitation, Lee said he shed 5 percent of his body fat. He said his core is as strong as ever, which he playfully evidenced by revealing his ripped abs.
Lee tore his right hip flexor in Game 1 of the opening-round playoff series against Denver -- his first-ever postseason appearance. He was expected to miss the remainder of the postseason but wound up returning for limited action.
He surprised everyone outside the Warriors locker room when he came out to warm up in the critical Game 6. He played only a minute and 27 seconds, missing his only shot. But the Warriors closed out the Nuggets, and he got more action in the next round. He played the last four games of the San Antonio series, starting with three minutes in Game 3 and just over 12 in Game 6.
Coach Mark Jackson called it a miracle. In hindsight, that seems even closer to reality. The initial medical opinions were that Lee didn't need surgery. After multiple opinions, he decided to go under the knife.
"When they went in," Lee said, "it was a situation where they were like, 'Yes, you absolutely needed surgery.' This wasn't a gray area. The muscle was completely torn off the bone and frayed."
But the surgery didn't throw Lee off his offseason course. He said he normally takes the first four weeks off after the season, so having to rest after surgery didn't set him back.
By the time he went to be with the team in Las Vegas for Summer League, he was back to full action on the court.
In late July, Lee gave his hip its first big test by accepting Nate Robinson's invitation to play in the Nike Pro City in New York. Lee followed that up by joining Warriors guard Kent Bazemore in Rucker League action in early August. Lee had no apparent limitations, catching lobs and dribbling coast-to-coast for dunks.
Now, Lee is ready to get back to work. In addition to getting his body in better condition, the plan he concocted with the Warriors' front office included getting his 17-foot jumper to become automatic. Lee said he's also working on adding the 3-pointer to his arsenal, specifically from the corner and the top of the key.
"This is the first time really in about five or six years that I've actually looked at the mechanics of some of the things I've been doing and fixed little things here and there," Lee said.
"But the biggest thing is being in better shape. Having that extra endurance is going to help on the defensive end, being able to make extra-effort plays. It's going to help me be more explosive, more athletic, which helps my overall game."
Lee said he's eager to get back into action. Not just because he ended the year hobbled, but because the Warriors finally have reached a level he'd only dreamed about when he came to Golden State in 2010.
Of course, that made the prospects of being traded a little bit harder to swallow. Lee was mentioned in multiple rumors over the summer. The hottest speculation had the Warriors shopping him to Portland for LaMarcus Aldridge and to Minnesota for Kevin Love.
Lee said he wasn't aware of the Aldridge rumors until co-owner Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers reached out to him. They wanted to assure him he wasn't being traded. But Lee joked about being nervous before he actually received their message.
"I was in Europe at Wimbledon the day all that stuff came out," Lee said. "I woke up and got messages from them. I said, 'I don't want to go to HoopsHype(.com) right now. ... They must be messaging me for some reason.' "
Lee is still around. And as usual, he's got something to prove. But this time, it's for a team expected to be a contender in the Western Conference.
"We still have a long way to go," Lee said. "But if you looked at where we came from three years ago. Some of the questions were, 'Why would you come here? They've had one playoff team in the last 150 years.' ... Looking where we are now and having these conversations, its very exciting."