Stephen Curry was back at practice with the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, with Steve Kerr admitting the two-time MVP got the Tom Brady treatment from his team-mates.
Warriors guard Curry has been sidelined since October having twice undergone surgery on a broken hand, but he recently said he remained on course to return next month.
Golden State were boosted by Curry's involvement in their defensive drills and shooting practice in their first practice since the All-Star break.
However, given Curry's status as the team's star and the nature of his injury, Kerr joked he ordered players not to make contact with the 31-year-old as if he were a red-shirted NFL quarterback in practice.
"We're calling him Tom Brady today. Don't touch Steph," Kerr told reporters, referencing the six-time Super Bowl champion.
"I think it was more for fun than anything. He took part in everything apart other than our scrimmage. Our scrimmage at the end, he didn't do that.
"He's looking great. He cannot be touched!"
~ just friend things ~ pic.twitter.com/QNGo2HKGuz— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) February 11, 2020
Reports suggest Curry's return could come on March 1 against the Washington Wizards, with the Warriors having five games on the schedule before then.
Kerr insisted there was no definitive timeframe for Curry's comeback but added he was impressed by his conditioning.
"I don't know when he's going to be allowed to scrimmage. It's not this week or anything," he said.
"He looks really good. He's gaining strength, gaining confidence.
"He's been putting himself through some brutal workouts so his conditioning is about as good as it can possibly be because of somebody who hasn't been able to scrimmage because of how he goes about his work."
The Warriors have made the NBA Finals in each of the previous five years but this season they are bottom of the Western Conference with an NBA-worst 12-43 record.
As well as Curry's lengthy absence, they have had to content with five-time All-Star Klay Thompson being sidelined by a torn anterior cruciate ligament that is expected to keep him out for the entire campaign.
"It's easy to look and say, 'In a couple of weeks, Steph's going to be ready to play', but Klay's a long way from that," Kerr added.
"I don't even entertain any thoughts of Klay playing this year."