Timberwolves guard J.J. Barea walked off the Target Center court not long ago after this morning's shootaround and declared himself fit and ready for tonight's game against the Pacers.
"I'm going," he said. "I've been feeling good the last couple days, I've been working hard. I'm good to go tonight. Maybe I'll get tired pretty quick, but if I'm tired, I'll ask for a sub."
A couple hours later, Ricky Rubio was named the Western Conference's Rookie of the Month for January while Cleveland's Kyrie Irving was named the same in the East.
Rubio is first among all rookies in assists (8.9 a game) and steals (2.24) and fifth in scoring (11.4 ppg).
Irving leads all rookies in scoring with an 18.1 average, is second in assists (4.9) and field-goal percentage (.511) and third in three-point percentage (.411).
Barea said he won't be on a minutes' limit -- like he was in one of hos previous one-game returns, on a 17-minute clock -- but instead will play in six or seven minute bursts until he gets tired. Then he'll rest and be ready to go back in.
He has tried to come back from hamstring and ankle injuries three times before this season and each time played just one game because he wasn't yet ready and missed more time. He has missed 10 of the last 11 games.
"I think this time is the time," he said. "If we would have done this the first time around...I think this is two weeks or something. I think we ewre patient this time and I think it's going to work."
Also, Darko Milicic said he will play tonight even though he still is experiencing dizzyness that a doctor's checkup can't explain.
"I think they're still kind of curious what's going on," he said. "I still feel a little bit dizzy. I can't stay out no more, just got to figure out what's going on. It might just go away."
He said he took some medication for the last three days and that he's supposed to start feeling its effects within four to 10 days.
"It's going to make my head get in the right spot," he said. "I'll play. I'll go as long as I can. I think it's going to go away."
You'd think Nikola Pekovic would start his fourth consecutive game tonight, even if Milicic's length probably is a better match for Pacers 7-3 center Roy Hibbert.
But I probably won't know that for certain until pre game.
Of course, Barea's return -- combined with the return of Martell Webster and Brad Miller last week -- is going to make Rick Adelman's job of finding enough minutes to keep everybody happy impossible.
With Barea and Webster back, that will limit -- or eliminate -- minutes for Wayne Ellington, Wes Johnson, Anthony Tolliver and probably even Luke Ridnour, among others.
And that's still with rookie Malcolm Lee out. He participated in some full court 2 on 2 and 3 on 3 work on Tuesday and looks like he's getting closer to a return, although with everybody else now healthy I'm not sure if that means he'll be able to crack the lineup or not.
The Wolves, btw, are wearing their throwback Minnesota Muskies uniforms tonight for the first time as part of the NBA commemorating the American Basketball Asscoiation's 45th-year anniversary.