Two nights after the Timberwolves got Ronny Turiaf back after two months away injured, reserve forward Chase Budinger made his season debut Wednesday against Phoenix at Target Center.
Budinger was welcomed back with warm applause and cheers when he checked into the game in the first quarter’s final minute. He quickly was presented with his first chance to shoot and took it, missing a corner three-pointer that came up just short. That was his lone miss. He scored six points on 2-for-3 shooting, making one three-pointer, in 11 minutes.
The team’s medical staff put Budinger on about a 20-minute limit in his return from two surgeries in the past 14 months on torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee. Adelman said Budinger’s biggest concern is not his knee but the rest of his body because of no training camp.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Adelman said. “He hasn’t played for a year. We’ve got to watch him and see how he reacts to it. … He’s just sore. It’s going to take him a little bit of time and it’s going to take our guys to figure out what he can do.”
Turiaf returned Monday to play 22-plus minutes after he missed more than two months because of an elbow injury.
“We have more options now,” Adelman said about having both players back.
Both Robbie Hummel and A.J. Price went to work Wednesday knowing their non-guaranteed contracts will be guaranteed for the rest of the season starting Friday. NBA teams had until Tuesday afternoon to waive players before their non-guaranteed contracts become guaranteed.
Hummel didn’t know about the three-day interim to allow players to clear waivers. “My mom called and said, ‘Congrats’ and I was like ‘For what?’ ” he said. “I thought the deadline was the 10th [Friday]. It really made it a lot easier for me because I wasn’t worried about it yet. It’s great to know your contract is guaranteed, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
Vote for Love drive
The Wolves on Wednesday launched a “Show Kevin Some Love” campaign, asking fans to vote their team’s star into the NBA All-Star Game’s Western Conference starting lineup by text, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and on NBA.com. Love is currently fourth in frontcourt balloting that will choose the three starters.
Love was picked as a reserve by West coaches the first two times he played in the All-Star Game.
“Obviously it means a lot when coaches pick you because it means you have a lot of respect around the league,” Love said. “But to be an All-Star starter means you have the best of both worlds with the fans, and the fans are who you play for.”
Turning back the clock
Wednesday’s game was a late 8:30 p.m. start so it could be part of ESPN’s Wednesday doubleheader. Do those extra 90 minutes affect players’ preparation?
“Yeah it does, I’m going to have an extra nap,” Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio said. “We did shootaround 30 minutes later, have lunch an hour later, do everything a little later.”
Down on the farm
Wolves rookie Shabazz Muhammad will play his second D-League game Thursday in Reno, Nev. He is expected to be recalled after he plays four games with the Iowa Energy, ending with Sunday’s game in Des Moines.
Expect the Wolves to send fellow rookie Gorgui Dieng down to the Iowa team as well. He probably won’t go down for a week’s stay like Muhammad but for select games when the Wolves’ schedule allows.
• Wolves forward Luc Mbah a Moute on Wednesday missed his third consecutive game because of strained groin muscles sustained a week ago in a victory over New Orleans.
• Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe missed his fourth consecutive game Wednesday because of a right knee sprain.
• The Suns signed veteran guard Leandro Barbosa to a 10-day contract Wednesday. He played the first seven of his 10 NBA seasons with Phoenix.