Rubio cleared for practice, but when he'll play up in air

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 30, 2012 - 11:55 PM
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Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

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What everybody wants to know is when will Ricky Rubio return to action with the Timberwolves. Well, he doesn't know.

After surgery last March 21 to repair two torn ligaments in his left knee, Rubio has been cleared to return to full-contact practice. But, as Rubio said after a shoot-around on Friday morning, he won't know how close he is to playing in a game until he actually gets on the court for that practice.

"No idea," he said, smiling, surrounded by a mob of reporters when asked about his return date.

Rubio got the OK from Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo., while the Wolves were finishing up a four-game road trip. So Rubio hasn't had the chance to practice with the team yet.

The Wolves, scheduled for a three-day break after Friday's game, likely won't practice on Saturday. That means Rubio's first full-out practice could come on Sunday.

"I don't know how I'm going to feel, if I'm going to feel great, if I'm going to feel weak," he said. "I don't have any idea. I have it all in my mind, 'Oh, I want to practice, I want to dunk.' But I don't think I can."

Still, Rubio is eager to return.

"The most difficult part is being patient," Rubio said. "You can't do more than they said because you can get hurt. Being patient is hard. It's hard, but it is what it is. You have to work as hard as you can."

Rubio said his left knee feels good and has almost 100 percent movement. He feels good about his ability to cut and his vertical movement. "I'm doing everything," he said. "Sometimes if I do too much, I feel a little pain. But it's normal, because it's not only the knee, it's been the whole body that has been stopped for eight months without playing. So it's normal."

Rubio said sitting on the bench has given him a different view of the game, allowing him to gain insight into what his teammates -- some of whom he hasn't played with -- can do. Still, it will take time for him to mesh with the team when he returns to practice.

"Let's see how many practices I can go with them and see if I can still pass," he joked.

The Wolves' schedule will give them plenty of practice time to help Rubio regain his legs, including a four-day break between games after a home contest with Cleveland next Friday.

But the Wolves' injury situation will make getting in good, full-contact practices difficult. "He needs to get on the court and play, and we don't have a lot of players," coach Rick Adelman said. "We'll just take the days as they come and try to figure out the best way to get him on the court."

Rubio knows that it will take time to get back into game shape and that his return will have to be gradual in terms of minutes played.

He's not in love with the idea, "but I will have to. That's what the doctors said, that the first games we'll have to limit the minutes, which I say OK. But once I'm out there, I don't think I can handle that. But it's going to be coach's decision to put me on the court."

He needs some full-contact practice to know how close he is. That commercial he did for Foot Locker and adidas that had him doing some backyard wrestling doesn't count. "No, that wasn't contact," he said. "It was all fake."

Etc.

• Andrei Kirilenko missed a second consecutive game with back spasms. He expects to be back in the lineup on Tuesday in Philadelphia.

• With San Antonio being fined by the league for holding healthy players out of a game, Adelman was asked about it. "I haven't had healthy players," he quipped.

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