Another turn of the wheel in the Timberwolves' recent injury drama came Tuesday as fans were teased with the prospect that Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards might both play in Wednesday night's home game against the Hawks — only for coach Chris Finch to throw water on that notion later in the afternoon.
But then the team's injury report threw them some crumbs that maybe one of them might return. Towns was listed as questionable to play for the first time since he injured his right calf Nov. 28. The upgrade for Towns indicates he could indeed take the floor after missing 52 games because of his injury.
Towns would likely have to go through some evaluation before the game, but his return has been nearing for a few weeks now, with Finch saying Monday that Towns felt "really, really close" to coming back. Edwards was also listed as questionable because of his right ankle injury, but that was also his designation before each of the past two games, both of which Edwards missed.
Earlier Monday, national NBA reporter Shams Charania reported there was optimism that Edwards and Towns would return together for Wednesday's game.
However, when Finch did a radio interview with WCCO on Tuesday afternoon, he tempered that optimism when host Chad Hartman asked him if he expected Towns and Edwards would play. Finch replied, "I do not."
"They're both in evaluation periods and they're definitely on separate timelines," Finch told WCCO. "Whether those timelines end up coming together at the same point, I'm not sure. They're very different. I do know that Anthony is feeling better and better every day, which is a good sign. And we know KAT is close."
Finch went into some detail about where they are in their recovery process and reiterated what he said before Monday's win over the Knicks — that Edwards wasn't working out and was receiving mostly treatment for the ankle he injured Friday.
But Finch seemed to indicate Towns was closer to a return than Edwards and said Towns, who has been scrimmaging with staff and teammates, was "deep" in a workout mode.
"These things are evaluated almost twice daily," Finch said. "How is it feeling? What's it looking like? Do we need more time? What's the return to play look like? How does that fit with what we're trying to accomplish."
With Towns, Finch has mentioned a number of options are in play when he returns after missing nearly four months. Towns might be on a minutes restriction and could come off the bench when he first returns. They have been trying to figure out how best to get Towns re-acclimated to playing again.
With Edwards, Finch said Monday they were still figuring some things out in terms of how Edwards is responding in his recovery.
"Ant always wants to play. Never thinks he's hurt," Finch said. "So, hopefully, it is feeling better, which he says it is. In terms of pain tolerance, range of movement, stability, all those things, I think we're still trying to figure out where that really is with him."
Finch also addressed the recent comments Towns made in an Athletic article about his injury, specifically the seeming miscommunication between a comment Finch made saying Towns did not have a setback in his recovery while Towns revealed that he did have one in January.
Towns also said the process around disseminating information regarding his injury could have been better communicated to fans. Finch said some things might have gotten lost in the back and forth between the team and Towns' camp. Towns wasn't nearing a return at that time anyway, so he or the team may not have viewed it as a "setback" and just part of a long recovery process whereas Towns viewed it differently.
"Listen, right now surrounding the modern athlete, there's no less than five or six people that are involved in the decision-making involved with these types of things," Finch said. "The more people you add to a discussion, the more chance you have that communication is going to be less than seamless. But I think in terms of any kind of setback, we never expected, at the time of this setback, we never expected that we were on the verge of any kind of return. It was early in the process of his coming back."