Carlos Delfino did not have to suffer through the miserable Milwaukee Bucks season while he recuperated from right foot surgery in his native Argentina.
But that doesn't mean Delfino was basking in the South American summer and enjoying himself.
Instead the 31-year-old Bucks guard-forward was dealing with doubts about his basketball future and wondering if he could ever return to the court.
Now those doubts are beginning to fade as Delfino takes the initial steps toward reviving his career. He returned to Milwaukee on March 27 and has been working closely with the team's athletic training staff and doctors.
"If my career was over with, to be truthful with you, I thought about it when things started to go wrong," Delfino said. "I take that as motivation. I lived my dream, playing in the NBA, and could I have played my last game?
"But I plan to be back and I feel I'm going to be back, and my body says the same. I'm a competitor and I want to be back. I can't wait."
Delfino underwent surgery on his foot in Buenos Aires in December, a procedure performed by Donato Villani, the doctor for Argentina's famed national soccer team.
Delfino was injured during the NBA playoffs last season when he was playing for the Houston Rockets. The Bucks signed him to a two-year, $6.5 million contract in the off-season after they lost Mike Dunleavy to free agency.
It marked a return to Milwaukee for Delfino, who started 159 games and made 178 appearances for the Bucks from 2009-'12 and was a key player on the 2010 playoff team that won 46 games.
But he showed up at training camp last fall in a walking boot, and after high-level shock therapy in September yielded few results, the decision was made for additional surgery.
"By May, I will start to do some activity on the court," Delfino said. "Slowly but definitely we're heading in a good direction right now. I have no pain in my foot. Dr. Villani is pretty confident in what he sees in my foot. Bucks officials and the medical staff are all confident about it."
Delfino said he could do nothing for the first two months after the surgery but he had the cast removed in mid-February.
"In this month and a half I've been starting to move," he said. "I've been able to shoot free throws, bike and do a little lifting. It's going to help with the transition to stepping out on the court.
"I'm waking up my body again after all the time I've just been sitting on the couch."
Delfino admitted he had a few advantages thanks to being home in Santa Fe, Argentina, following the surgery. He was able to be with his family, including wife Martina and twins Carlos and Cecilia, now 21 months old.
"Having my rehab next to my family was a huge help," Delfino said. "And the rehab center I was going to was five blocks away from my house.
"In all this long stretch I've been off the court, you hear stuff, you think a little stuff. But you have the support of your family and their confidence. My brother was sending me videos of when I was playing and trying to motivate me."
All that time to think made Delfino realize he was not ready to end a basketball career that has taken him to four NBA teams (Detroit, Toronto, Milwaukee and Houston) and resulted in three Olympic appearances with Argentina (including a gold-medal finish in 2004 in Athens). He is part of Argentina's "Golden Generation" of players that includes Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni and Luis Scola.
"It's pretty tough to be off," Delfino said. "I have friends who have retired early, and they have regrets about that. I've been off now and I don't feel like I want to retire. I feel like I have more to do."
Delfino said he is unsure of his exact summer plans but indicated he would consult with Bucks officials with his goal to be in the best shape possible for fall training camp.
The Bucks have missed his ability to space the floor and sink three-point shots, in addition to his ability to defend some of the league's top scorers.
He said he would look forward to helping the Bucks' young players. Delfino will turn 32 in August and is the oldest player on the Milwaukee roster.
He said the team's growing pains were difficult but part of the process.
"I grew up in this league playing with one of the best teams ever, the Pistons," Delfino said. "I didn't have too much time to develop on the court, because there were great players in front of me.
"When you have a chance to be playing a lot of minutes, it's always good for you. It's going to be good for the future, and the Bucks are going to get the value of this time.
"You've got to try to see the full part of the glass, not the empty part. Try to be positive and get the good things."