Wolves coach Flip Saunders wouldn’t say anything for sure. But it appears there is a good chance that at least one veteran will be back in the rotation Wednesday when the Wolves host Dallas at Target Center.
Both center Nikola Pekovic and guard Kevin Martin appear very close to returning. Pekovic has missed 31 games with ankle soreness and Martin has missed the last 30 after fracturing his right (shooting) wrist and then having surgery.
Pekovic said there is still some residual soreness in his ankle, but the soreness that he’d been experiencing after practices and games is gone. “It feels better,” he said. “I mean, way better. There is still some pain there, but it’s normal. It’s something that is totally acceptable for me.”
When asked whether he’d play Wednesday, Pekovic said it was Saunders’ decision. But he also indicated that he’d told his coach he was ready to play.
Martin, meanwhile, said it would be his decision on whether to return Wednesday. “I’ll make that decision, if I’m going to go tomorrow,” he said. “It depends on how I feel when I wake up. I’m still learning how to play with it, being a little cautious because it’s a shooting hand. But I’m getting there.’’
Ricky Rubio’s return date is a ways off, though. The good news is that the team’s point guard – out the past 35 games after spraining his left ankle – did some live contact work in practice Tuesday, the first time he’s done that since the injury. But Saunders said Rubio still has some soreness.
But, having had both Pekovic and Martin in practices over the last week or so has made the whole team better; Saunders said it was one reason for the recently-completed 2-2 road trip.
But the bottom line is that all three will be back sooner than later. And that means a lot of adjustment from everyone. Pekovic indicated that he might need to ease back into things, minutes-wise, to get his conditioning back. Martin seemed to think he’d be good from the time he returns. “I’ve been on a minutes restriction the last 2½ months,’’ he quipped. “I think I’m past that point.’’
Saunders said the returning vets will have to learn with a team that has changed since they left, with the development of youngsters Andrew Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng in particular. Those players who have been playing all along will have to adjust to a change in rotation – and, perhaps, a decrease in minutes – with the return of the veterans.
“It will be an adjustment both for the guys coming back into their roles and also the guys who have been playing,” Saunders said.
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you prior to Wednesday’s game.