Time and again Thursday morning, someone would toss a medicine ball to Timberwolves guard Rashad McCants. As the player -- rehabbing his right knee since microfracture surgery in June -- caught it, he would do a deep squat, rise up and sling the heavy leather orb back over his head.
From the free-throw line, he kept throwing the medicine ball well beyond midcourt. Again and again and again.
"I don't know how many of our guys could get it to the halfcourt line," assistant coach Rex Kalamian said.
Even more impressive, McCants' feat of strength was just dessert. The main course: participating in much of the team's practice for the first time this season.
If that's encouraging news for fans, listen to how McCants felt.
"After five months of not playing basketball, getting involved now is definitely rewarding," he said Friday after the team's morning shootaround, in which he also took part.
"I still kind of feel like Casper the Ghost. Not involved with the team at all, not even in team chemistry on or off the court. I think the first part of recovering is being part of the team again. And being able to have an opinion or a say in what's going on. That's probably the hardest thing for me, because I talk a lot."
Neither coach Dwane Casey nor McCants mentioned any target date for the second-year guard's return to action. "I don't want to put an 'ahead' timetable or 'behind' timetable on him," Casey said. "He's coming along. He'll let us know when he's ready."
McCants estimated his physical readiness at "85 percent" and added: "Given another month, another month-and-a-half, there will be plenty of time to find out where I am explosionwise."
As for worrying about the sorts of setbacks that other microfracture surgery patients such as Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire and Denver's Kenyon Martin have had, McCants said: "Everybody's different. If you come back 100 percent, there's not going to be a setback."
Karl sees perfection
Nuggets coach George Karl was effusive in his praise of the 2006-07 edition of Kevin Garnett.
"I don't see a player play with as much intensity and professionalism and perfection," Karl said. "Right now, I think Kevin Garnett probably isn't as talented as he once was. But his efficiency on the court is incredible. He almost plays the game with a perfectionist's mentality.
"In basketball, if you play 70 percent of your possessions well and make mistakes on 30 percent, you're on the court. This guy, he doesn't make mistakes. I don't know if I ever remember seeing a player like that. Watching him on film is seeing a clinic."
Karl, a friend of college coach Rick Majerus, suggested his pal as a candidate for the Gophers job "if he's healthy." Otherwise, the Nuggets coach -- a Tar Heels alum -- wants "a Carolina guy."
When Marko Jaric subbed in for Trenton Hassell in the first quarter Friday, he and the crowd got a surprise: Jaric's jersey was on backward, and he had to reverse it before play resumed.