Chase Budinger couldn’t wait to get back to Minneapolis, but he’s not going to rush his way back into action.
Budinger was on the Target Center court after the Wolves’ practice Monday, taking shots. He returned to the Twin Cities late last week after spending the previous six weeks rehabbing his surgically-repaired left knee in Pensacola, Fla. Right now he’s able to do some shooting, some strength exercises for his leg and knee and some jogging on a treadmill. And that means his return to the lineup is weeks away.
There is no target date yet.
“Any injury like this, and how it happened the second time, you really can’t put a date on it,” Budinger said. “You’ve got to go by how your body is feeling, how your knee is feeling. … Each week it’s getting better, it’s feeling stronger. I’ve got to keep continuing that until it gets to full strength.”
It is Budinger’s second time around with the knee, which he originally injured in Chicago on Nov. 10, 2012. He didn’t return from surgery to play again until March 21. And while this procedure — performed by Dr. James Andrews at his Pensacola clinic — wasn’t as extensive, Budinger wants to make sure the knee is all the way back before playing.
But he was happy to get back with the team. Budinger said he’d been a bit lonely during his rehab at Andrews’ clinic, far away both from his family in California and his team here. Budinger felt soreness in his knee as he ramped up his workouts in preparation for training camp to begin. He had the knee checked, and further damage was detected, and the procedure was done by Andrews on Sept. 30.
“It was very difficult when I got the news and how it happened right before the surgery,” Budinger said. “But I’ve been staying positive. I’ve actually had some help from my family. They bought books; my uncle sent me like 10 books, all about the mental game, about staying ready, all this stuff. I’ve been reading those on my down time.”
Budinger will continue his rehab with the team’s athletic trainers. Wolves coach Rick Adelman said Budinger would not travel with the team for a week or two. But being back in town is a plus.
“I think it’s always good to see what we’re doing and be around the team,” Adelman said. “he got hurt before we even had training camp, so he really didn’t see a lot of guys.”
Budinger said the next step might be taking part in 5-on-0 situations, when the team works through plays. That would come before taking any part in full practices.
“It’s always difficult watching your team play and not being able to help,’’ he said. “But our guys are doing a great job so far and I’m very proud of ‘em. And I hope, when I do come back, I can increase our winning percentage and help our team in anyway.”
• Adelman tried to take it easy on his team in its first real practice in a while, knowing the tough schedule coming up.
“We have five in seven days and four in five days, so we did some things, but they weren’t real enthusiastic about it,’’ he said.
• After missing two games because of a sprained ankle, Shabazz Muhammad returned to practice, but he remains questionable for Tuesday’s game in Washington.