The Timberwolves traded for D'Angelo Russell more than a year ago, and since then he and center Karl-Anthony Towns have played in just five games together.
It will be a while longer before they share the court together again.
The Wolves finally got some clarity to Russell's left leg soreness, which kept him out the past three games. He Russell is going to require arthroscopic surgery that will sideline him four to six weeks, the Wolves said in a news release.
Russell, who had been trying to play through a right quad contusion, injured his left leg early in the Wolves' loss to Dallas on Feb. 8 and has missed the last three games entering Tuesday's against the Lakers with what the team had termed "left leg soreness."
But after Russell underwent further evaluation over the last week, doctors determined there was a "loose body" in the knee that required surgery, the team said.
"The sooner we can we can get everybody right, the sooner we can see what those guys look like together is our hope," coach Ryan Saunders said before Tuesday's game against the Lakers. "In terms of frustration, I mean hey, if you're going to get frustrated over a lot of things you can't control on a daily basis, you'll drive yourself crazy in pro sports."
But it has been a frustrating process for the Wolves considering the Russell-Towns partnership is central to a future that President Gersson Rosas is trying to build.
After the Wolves traded for Russell last February, he and Towns played in one game together before Towns missed the rest of the coronavirus-shortened season because of a left wrist fracture. This season, they played in only four games together as Towns missed significant time because of a left wrist dislocation and his battle with COVID-19. Just before Towns returned last week Russell suffered his leg injury that will keep him out at least until mid-March.
"We have a locker room, a roster full of players for a reason, it gives other guys opportunities," Saunders said. "We would love to have D-Lo out there and KAT out there because they are so extremely talented, especially together, but hey, that's not in the cards for the short term. So other guys need to step up."
That would include Ricky Rubio, who has struggled most of the season in his return to Minnesota, and Jordan McLaughlin, who is signed to a two-way deal but has played capably in a larger role when the team has needed him to last season and this one.
Russell is averaging 19.3 points per game on 43% shooting.
While Russell has missed time over the last three weeks, Saunders has consistently said the Wolves were trying to gather more information related to Russell's injury. That led to some frustration over the lack of information among fans, but Saunders said COVID safety held up further examinations Russell needed to have before all agreed he needed to have surgery.
"It makes it a challenge," Saunders said. "You can say that for pretty much anything especially for something medically and something where close interaction is involved. COVID has changed all of our lives in so many ways and we all need to continue to work to adapt and unfortunately be flexible even when we don't want to."
Eventually the diagnosis came in, and while it isn't a season-ending injury, it means another lost chunk of time to look at how the team functions around Russell and Towns.
The Wolves also provided an update on Jarrett Culver, who has been out since Jan. 25 because of a sprained left ankle, and said Culver has been upgraded to participating in on-court activities. He will be re-evaluated next week and could return late next week.
Reeve on Edwards
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve has been checking in on the Wolves this season and so far has really liked what she has seen from rookie Anthony Edwards. Reeve discussed during a radio appearance on WCCO-AM 830 on Tuesday and praised Edwards' talent and personality.
"This is a guy that's really naturally talented offensively ... " Reeve said in an interview with Cory Hepola. "You're the No. 1 pick, have a lot of expectations and you're trying to figure it out and I've been really impressed with how he's evolved. Then also his demeanor in doing it. He's got the perfect demeanor. He doesn't seem to let too much bother him. It's just joy. He has a lot of joy in playing the game and a very bright future ahead of him."