Wolves coach Flip Saunders isn't about to set it in stone. There could be complications, maybe a setback. But guard Ricky Rubio, out since severely spraining his left ankle in Orlando Nov. 7, is scheduled to return to game action Monday night in Dallas.
"He's seen three specialists," Saunders said. "And all of them have cleared him if things are OK come Monday. They have OK'd him to be able to play on a limited time basis."
It couldn't come at a better time for the Wolves, who have two other guards — Mo Williams (hip) and Zach LaVine (twisted left ankle) battling injuries. Both missed Saturday's game against Cleveland.
But don't expect Rubio back anywhere near 100 percent. Saunders said that Rubio — who missed his 42nd game Saturday — would be about 75 percent when he first steps back on the court.
"Part of his rehabilitation is going to be playing in games," Saunders said. "Especially when you're in this part of the season. When he comes back, it will be on a limited basis. … So you're not going to see the real Rubio. You're going to see flashes of him passing and getting us into an offense and understanding and helping some of our young players understand what they have to do on the floor."
But there is, Saunders insisted, a silver lining to having lost Rubio for such a long stretch.
"His shot has almost been remade," Saunders said. "A lot more arc on it. [He's] shooting the ball a lot better. We might look back in a year and say maybe the best thing that ever happened was having those three months off where he was able to really break down his shot and work on his shot and become a consistent shooter."
Point guard issues
But Rubio coming back Monday didn't help the Wolves on Saturday, when they entered the game with only one healthy point guard in recently signed Lorenzo Brown. He wound up playing all 48 minutes. he missed all five of his shots but had nine assists.
"I asked Sid if he had any legs left," Saunders joked, referring to assistant coach Sidney Lowe. "It's not an ideal situation, because, going down the list, there aren't a lot of creative [players]. It will be a team-type concept."
Shabazz Muhammad flew back to the Twin Cities on Saturday afternoon after spending time with a specialist in Vancouver working to come back from an oblique muscle strain that kept him out of a 12th straight game Saturday.
But he said he expects to be back soon.
"It's feeling a lot better," he said. "Hopefully I'll be ready to play in a couple games. We worked on a lot of core stuff. And a lot of quick-moving stuff.''