Jerry Zgoda missed the entire Kevin Garnett era, but he's back covering the Timberwolves after working the beat for their first four seasons two decades ago. In between, he covered a bit of everything: Gopher men's and women's basketball and NCAA athletics, golf, outdoor recreation, sports media and a little Vikings and Twins.
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.
The Wolves will play on against Washington tonight without Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic at Target Center, but...
Kevin Love and Chase Budinger both said today that they will confer with doctors next week in the hope of returning to game action within a week or two after that.
Love said he will visit his New York City hand surgeon next Wednesday and then join the team in time for that Friday's game at Houston.
He said he wouldn't jump straight in and play against the Rockets even if he gets doctor's clearance, like he did when he returned in November from the first time he broke that right shooting hand.
But he made it clear he hopes it won't be too much longer after that.
He said the difference between this time and last time is "surgery," and probably a little more conservative tack to his return.
"It's really up to the doctors and myself and Glen (Taylor) and David (Kahn) and pick where to go from there," Love said.
Love said he was "right on schedule" to play within eight to 10 weeks from his Jan. 15 surgery
Eight to 10 weeks would be between next Tuesday's game against San Antonio and a March 26 game at Detroit.
After that March 15 Houston game, the Wolves play New Orleans at home on a Sunday, at Memphis on Monday and at Sacramento and Phoenix that next Thursday and Friday.
Expect he'll play sometime in that week.
Budinger, meanwhile, said he will confer by phone with Dr. James Andrews on his knee next Tuesday, hoping to get clearance to practice after that with the intent that he could play within a week or two after that.
LeBron James is warming up before tonight's game against the Wolves at Target Center intending to play, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.
James came down wrong on his knee in Sunday's comeback victory at New York but played on anyone.
He had a doctor look at the knee earlier on Monday but Spoelstra and teammate Chris Bosh both expected he'll play.
"His leg would probably have to fall off for him to miss a game," Bosh said.
At last check, James appeared to have both legs intact tonight.
The Wolves, meanwhile, will continue to play without starters Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic, both of whom remain out tonight.
(And, yes, of course, Kevin Love remains out, too).
Wolves coach Rick Adelman said Pekovic's MRI taken of an abdominal strain on Monday didn't show any structural damage, but both he and Kirilenko (strained calf) still were experencing soreness Monday with no indication when exactly either will return.
The Wolves again will start Mickael Gelabale at small forward and Greg Stiemsma at center.
Wolves forward Chase Budinger, working to come back from Nov. 13 surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee, got some good news today at his checkup with Dr. James Andrews in Florida.
Budinger has been cleared for on-court running and agility drills. He will be re-evaluated again in two to three weeks.
This appears to be the last step before being cleared to take part in full practice. And Budinger would need a few practices before appearing in a game. Still, Budinger is still aiming for a return to action in March.
A little of this and that from this morning's shootaround before tonight's game against Utah
* Andrei Kirilenko remains out with that strained quad.
"I'm feeling pretty good," he said. "Not tonight, but I bet I'll be ready by All Star break. It's not there yet, but it's very close."
* JJ Barea will play with that still sore foot sprain after playing 15 minutes but not moving very well in Monday's victory at Cleveland.
He's planning on some advanced rehab on that foot throughout the five-day All Star break that begins Thursday.
"Just got to get through this one tonight, go to Puerto Rico, put it in some hot water, hot sand and I'll be back ready to go," he said.
* Is this a good sign for Nikola Pekovic's long-term future in Minnesota: He's becoming one of us.
Big Pek said he'll spend part of All Star weekend ice fishing with friends on Lake Mille Lacs.
Asked if he trusts the ice to hold him, he said, "It's three feet. If the cabin can be there, then I can be there probably."
* Ricky Rubio and rookie Alexey Shved head to Houston tomorrow to play in Friday's Rising Stars Challenge that kicks off All-Star weekend.
Rubio has fond memories playing in last year's game.
"I met a lot of people," he said. "Shaquille O'Neal, it was great to see how huge he was. He was funny. All those guys who were there, they're legends. I watched all of them on the TV and it's amazing to say `Hi' to them."
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