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  • 24 Dec 2014

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Przybilla accepts his (lack of) role with Bucks

Two hours before Saturday's game against the Trail Blazers, Joel Przybilla was on the floor, shooting around with hopes of finally having a chance to play. But at tip-off, the Milwaukee Bucks' 33-year-old center sat in a sports coat and jeans during his return to the Rose Garden.

The former Blazer was a healthy scratch for the 15th straight game when Milwaukee defeated Portland 110-104.

In his 13th NBA season, Przybilla has become an insurance player for the Bucks, used sporadically behind two younger centers.

But when the 7-footer signed with Milwaukee after spending last season in Portland, he knew what to expect.

“I met with the team this summer ... before I signed here, and they told me what was going on,” said Przybilla, who spent seven season with the Blazers. “I may not be active, and I understand that,”

Przybilla has averaged six minutes and 1.8 rebounds in the 10 games he's played this season. Saturday, though, was the 29th time through 39 games he did not see action.

The last time Przybilla saw the court was Dec. 19 against Memphis, when he threw a ball at an official, resulting in a one-game suspension.

Since then, Milwaukee has begun solidifying its lineup, and Przybilla hasn't factored into coach Jim Boylan's plans.

“It's not an injury thing,” Boylan said. “We have a lot of big guys, and Joel has been the odd man out. He's a great teammate. He's done a nice job for us in all the other areas. There may come a time we need him, and he's staying ready. Down the road, there may be an opportunity to get him out there.”

Przybilla is approaching the end of his career.

After two major knee surgeries during his time with the Blazers, the Minnesota native is trying to squeeze the last bit of basketball out of his battered body. His contract with the Bucks expires at the end of this season, and while there may be few suitors awaiting this summer, Przybilla said he's still interested in playing next season.

“I wouldn't mind coming back,” Przybilla said. “I've really enjoyed my situation here and the guys in the locker room. So I wouldn't mind.”

And if he did return, he's not concerned about his knee, saying it's the best it's felt since the surgery.

“People told me I'd probably never play again,” he said. “But I'm out here still doing what I'm doing. I may not be what I used to be, but I'm also older, too.”

Przybilla played for the Blazers from 2004 to 2011. During the 2010-11 season, he played with the Charlotte Bobcats before returning to Portland last season. But after averaging 16 minutes in just 27 games, the center was a free agent and landed in his wife's hometown of Milwaukee.

Saturday was the first time he had returned to Portland since departing this summer.

"It's always good to come back," he said. "I played here for a while and developed a lot of close relationships."

With 43 games remaining this season, Boylan said he'll think about calling Przybilla's number when the Bucks face a big team or if the team faces injuries. but until then, Przybilla remains patient, still waiting for his chance.

“At this point in my career, they just wanted me to come in and be a locker room presence, be ready," he said. “If someone gets hurt, I have to stay ready. It's happened before in the past with me, so I accepted the role and I knew what I was getting myself into.”