Wolves forward Chase Budinger was cleared for full-contact workouts in a phone call with Florida surgeon Dr. James Andrews Tuesday. That means his return is near, but a date has not yet been set.
Andrews performed surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee Nov. 13.
“We had a call with (Andrews),” Budinger said. “We told him what I’ve been doing lately, telling him I’ve been progressing well. He was pleased with that and said I could go into the next phase of doing contact stuff.”
Unfortunately, given the Wolves schedule, Budinger probably won’t have much opportunity to take part in a full practice in the next week and a half. The Wolves host San Antonio tonight and play in Indiana Wednesday. The team will have Thursday off, then play at Houston Friday. Saturday could be the first practice Budinger could participate in. The team is only scheduled for two practices in the next 10 days.
“But what I can do is start playing one-on-one with the coaches, two-on-two,” Budinger said. “Hopefully Kevin (Love) can get cleared so we can start working out together and doing two-on-two type stuff. I’m really just going forth into the next phase, and that’s more contact and live stuff.”
Love, who is coming off hand surgery, is scheduled to visit with his New York surgeon Wednesday, hoping to get final clearance to return to action. A return date for Love would presumably be set after that visit.
Budinger, meanwhile, those two scheduled full-team practices will the final indicator of when he can return. “Once we do five-on-five, see how it feels, see how my wind is, see how it responds the next day, we’ll just go from there,” he said.
Budinger said the strength in his leg is nearly 100 percent, but probably wouldn’t be back all the way until next season. “I’m not jumping like I used to,” he said. “But it’s coming along. I’m close. I think I’ll be fine out there. I’ve been in this league long enough now where I knew how to be productive out there and help the team win.”
Budinger has been doing dunks off his repaired knee for a few days now. Before tonight’s game he will do a physical one-on-one session with a Wolves assistant. But Budinger said he’ll need at least one good, hard, five-on-five practice before he will have an idea when he can return.
The good news is the recovery has been without significant setbacks, though Budinger has dealt with some back pain as he worked through his recovery.
Meanwhile, both forward Andrei Kirilenko and center Nikola Pekovic will miss tonight’s game with the Spurs and tomorrow’s game in Indiana.