The Timberwolves returned to practice Tuesday after their five-day All-Star break, but starting center Nikola Pekovic didn’t.
Pekovic has missed the past nine games because of bursitis in his right ankle and is expected to miss Wednesday night’s game at home against the Pacers when the Wolves begin the final 29-game stretch of their regular season.
He is out of the protective boot he wore last week, but wasn’t yet ready to practice.
“I’m not surprised,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. “They’re hoping to get more activity over the next few days and see what happens. Like I’ve said before, he’s got to get on court and practice some. It’s not only the injury, it’s the practicing.”
The Wolves likely will practice Thursday and Friday before they fly to Salt Lake City to begin a five-game road trip Saturday against the Jazz.
“He’s getting better,” point guard J.J. Barea said. “I think he’ll be back soon. I think he’s making sure that when he’s back, he’ll be ready to go. Yeah, we miss him. You know we miss him.”
Starting shooting guard Kevin Martin also did not practice Tuesday and is not expected to play Wednesday. He is scheduled to revisit his doctor Friday before the team leaves to have his fractured left thumb examined again.
Martin said last week that he hopes to be cleared to play on the trip. He hasn’t played since Feb. 7 at New Orleans.
Trade deadline approaches
The clock is ticking on Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline, with the Wolves six games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“Anytime you can add players who will help you, you really have to look at that,” Adelman said. “We’re under .500, so I think Flip and Milt (Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders and General Manager Milt Newton) are looking at everything. Right now, you have to listen to whatever is going on. It takes two, sometimes three to make a deal.”
Yahoo!Sports reported Monday that the Wolves have discussed a deal that would send Barea and small forward Chase Budinger to Memphis for defensive-minded shooting guard Tony Allen and small forward Tayshaun Prince. The Wolves also are believed to have interest in Denver point guard Andre Miller, exiled after feuding with Nuggets coach Brian Shaw.
The road ahead
The Wolves need to go 22-7 in their final 29 games to reach 47 victories, a threshold that could put them in contention for that final playoff spot.
They start by playing the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers and then head out on a five-game Western trip.
“We know it’s going to be a tough schedule,” Adelman said Tuesday. “We know with the game [Wednesday] and the five games on the road. We have to win. It’s as simple as that. They should know that. They all took math and everything. They better figure it out.”
Asked if he feels positive his team can get there even if it doesn’t make a deal to improve by Thursday, Adelman said, “I have to feel positive because that’s the team we have. There’s nothing else that’s going to happen, so we have to play better as a group and we have to get our injured guys back. Then we’ll deal with it.”
Out of their control
Budinger declined an interview request Tuesday, saying, “I’m not talking about any rumors.”
Barea didn’t decline such a request.
“I’m a veteran, I’ve heard that all my career but I don’t listen to that,” Barea said, referring to trade rumors. “If it happens, it happens. I’m happy where I’m at. Minnesota was the one that gave me my contract. I want to do my job here and if something happens, it happens. If it don’t, it don’t.”
Adelman on whether his team can put together a 22-7 season finish or something thereabouts: “I don’t know this late. I had a Houston team that won 22 in a row. I’d like to have that happen. We moved right into contention real quick. That’s my goal.”