J.J. Redick still can't get back into it; return uncertain

J.J. Redick and the Clippers remain uncertain about when the shooting guard will return or whether surgery will be needed to treat the bulging disk in his back.

Redick was encouraged after practicing Thursday and Friday, but he won't play Saturday against the Detroit Pistons at Staples Center.

When asked if he would need surgery, Redick said, "I don't know."

"As long as I'm making progress, then we don't really have to worry about that," he said. "I think I've made enough progress that I'm hopeful that I'm going to be able to avoid that."

Redick has missed the last 18 games because of his back injury.

"The thought on that is as long as I'm improving, there's a chance that I'll be back," Redick said. "Where I felt like maybe I had plateaued a few weeks ago, there's definitely been some improvement in the last couple of weeks. So that's been promising. I don't think we'll get to a place where they'd shut me down. I think it would be the dreaded 'S' [surgery] word. But as long as I'm improving, then I'll avoid that."

Redick said he and the team think his back injury may stem from a hard fall he suffered during a game Nov. 29 against Sacramento.

Earlier this season he also suffered a broken bone and torn ligaments in his right hand.

Redick said he has a "nerve issue" in his right leg that can cause him problems.

"So when the nerve is responding, I feel good. When the nerve is not responding, then the right leg has some issues," Redick said. "So, again, that's why it's a day-to-day thing and that's why I just have to continue to manage it. There's not really a whole lot you can do for nerves — besides operate, and I don't want to go that route."

Redick said he has had some epidural shots.

"The pain is minimal at this point in my back," Redick said. "The issue has been the nerve and just not my leg. It's functional, or a lack of function ability for a long period of time. But it's starting to come back."

Redick said he needs to have "strength and explosiveness and endurance" in his leg before he can return to play in a game.

"I'd like to be back Saturday, but that's not realistic," Redick said. "You want to control things. You want to say I'll be back this day or that date. But this injury has been weird and it's been frustrating. So my main concern is just long-term health."

Etc.

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said that guards Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison will play against the Pistons. Crawford has missed eight of the last nine games because of a strained left calf, and Collison missed two games because of a stomach virus.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner