Duke’s Coach K says Bagley is closer, but still not ready to return from injury

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Wednesday night that he isn’t sure when Marvin Bagley III will return from his knee injury.

“It’s a day-to-day thing,” he said. “Marvin has a problem, or else he would play. He’s getting better. The thing is, it’s not a structural problem. But if we weren’t concerned about him having more injury, he would play.”

Bagley suffered a “mild knee sprain,” on Feb. 8 during the first half of Duke’s game against North Carolina. With about seven minutes remaining in the half, he jumped up to grab a rebound. When he came down and passed the ball, cameras showed him running with a slight limp.

Bagley played all but one minute of that game.

But since then, Bagley has not played. Krzyzewski hadn’t said much about Bagley’s injury recently. Last week, he said Bagley and Duke were being very cautious.

Bagley, who leads the ACC in scoring (21.2 ppg) and rebounding (11.4 rbg) is projected to be a top-5 pick in upcoming NBA Draft, and will be guaranteed to make millions of dollars when he leaves Duke.

“One he’s not ready, but he’s getting closer now,” Krzyzewski said. “I don’t know when it will happen. But I’m not going to push him.”

Playing without Bagley has allowed other players, such as Grayson Allen, Javin DeLaurier, Marques Bolden, Jack White and Wendell Carter Jr. to step up.

In the four games Duke has played without Bagley, it has won all four: at Georgia Tech, 80-69, on Feb. 11; at home against Virginia Tech, 74-52, on Feb. 14; a 66-57 win at then-No. 11 Clemson on Feb. 18; and a 82-56 win at home over Louisville.

Bagley has missed time because of injuries before. He missed the last 30 minutes of Duke’s game against then-No. 2 Michigan State on Nov. 14 after he was poked in the eye by a teammate. Bagley also injured his shoulder against Miami on Jan. 15. He left the game briefly, but eventually returned.

But prior to the Georgia Tech, he hadn’t missed an entire game.

Since his injury, Bagley has shot the basketball some before games and worked on his free throws. At Clemson, he had on his game shorts before re-changing into street clothes. It’s unclear whether he has practiced.

“The other thing is, you don’t want anyone out there that is thinking about a body part while you’re playing,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s been good. He’s been a great teammate. We’re good with everything. Also we’re concerned with the kid to make sure that he’s good.”

Jonathan M. Alexander: 919-829-4822, @GarnerCleveland