For the first time since hurting his left knee Nov. 10, Chase Budinger took part in a full-out, five-on-five basketball practice Wednesday.
The result was a mixture of exhaustion and exhilaration. He felt rusty and raw and out of basketball shape. But he was also thrilled to back on the court with his teammates.
And, if his knee – it was operated on Nov. 13 for a lateral meniscus tear – feels good tomorrow morning, he should return to action during the Wolves game with Sacramento on Thursday night.
“It’s all dependent on how my knee feels tomorrow morning,” Budinger said after practice. “We’ll see how the swelling is.
” Actually, there are a lot of things to keep track of, Budinger said. Dr. James Andrews, who did the surgery, said Budinger will have to deal with soreness in the knee for the rest of the season. But Budinger said he could play through it. But he’ll also be keeping tabs on the rest of his body.
“It’s not just about my knee,” he said. “It’s about the rest of my body, too, breaking down. That’s something I have to focus on.”
That said, fans should see a little of what Budinger’s return to the lineup will mean for a team hoping to finish the season on a strong note. Coach Rick Adelman said ever today he could see in practice the way Budinger moves with the ball.
“He made cuts today that the other guys don’t do,” Adelman said. “He’s used to doing that. That will help us a lot.”
That and Budinger’s three-point shooting should help the way the team can spread the court.
Meanwhile, Andrei Kirilenko was held out of most of Wednesday’s practice and is still on a minutes limit going forward. Adelman is also making sure not to overwork center Nikola Pekovic. Both have returned from injuries to play in the last two games.