Shabazz Muhammad knew something was wrong right away. It was early in practice Wednesday when the middle finger of his left hand got caught in Andrew Wiggins’ jersey.
“The knuckle kind of came out of place,” he said. “I knew something was wrong. I continued to practice, but it was really hurting. The next day it swelled up on me.”
Muhammad will have surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester on Monday to repair a ruptured ligament. Muhammad tried to play through the injury, even after it was diagnosed Thursday; he played 12 minutes in Friday’s game, scoring seven points and wanted to try to play through it down the stretch of the season. But the decision was made to get it fixed now.
“The thing is, it’s probably an eight- to 10-week recovery,” coach Flip Saunders said. “So from that perspective we wanted to get it done so, come July 1, he is able to get a good summer [of work] in.”
Muhammad said if the injury occurred on his right, non-shooting, hand, he would have played out the schedule. But the way the finger had to be braced made it difficult for him to shoot.
The good thing is Muhammad flashed enough strong play during the season (13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds in 23 minutes per game) that he has firmly entrenched himself as a part of the team’s future. But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
Muhammad said he is planning a very busy summer. He intends to return to California to work with trainer Frank Matrisciano and he will also work hard on his game.
Recently acquired rookie forward Adreian Payne impressed Saunders in his debut with the team Friday.
“I thought defensively he was good,” Saunders said. “I thought he was our best guy in pick-and-rolls.”
Payne did a particularly good job on pick and rolls against Phoenix guard Eric Bledsoe, preventing him from getting to the rim.
Payne figures to get significant minutes, especially since Anthony Bennett is out at least two weeks because of an ankle injury.
The plan had been to try to get Glenn Robinson some minutes in the Development League once the team got back to full strength. But, as that really didn’t happen, it looks like Robinson will stay with the Wolves all season. “I don’t know if we can do that,” Saunders said of a trip to the D League. “We need 10 to practice.”
There is a chance Robinson could get some playing time down the stretch. “Everyone has to be available,” Saunders said.
• Guard Gary Neal twisted an ankle late in Sunday’s practice and left the court with a limp. He will accompany the team to Houston, but is questionable for Monday’s game with the Rockets.
• The Wolves are hoping Robbie Hummel, out since Jan. 25 because of a fractured right hand, will be able to return in as little as two weeks.
• Ricky Rubio said his ankle feels good enough and his conditioning is back to the point where a minutes limit is no longer necessary.