WINNIPEG – The Timberwolves arrived in Winnipeg Friday evening for a three-game trip to star Andrew Wiggins' Canada with only two of their four point guards available for Saturday's game against Chicago at MTS Centre.
Starter Ricky Rubio worked out on his own Friday but did not do any contact action with teammates and is not yet ready to play because of a quad strain that has kept him out all week, including Monday's public scrimmage and Wednesday's preseason opener against Oklahoma City.
Veteran backup Andre Miller was given permission to attend to personal matters out of town and is expected to rejoin the team in time for Monday's game at Toronto.
That leaves the load on rookie Tyus Jones and Lorenzo Brown in a Saturday game when the Bulls themselves will be without injured star point guard Derrick Rose.
On Monday, Rubio's strained quad was described by the team's medical staff as minor and his absence from the Target Center scrimmage was called merely precautionary.
Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell was asked Friday if he is concerned about the practice and game time Rubio — who missed much of last season because of a severely sprained ankle — has missed already.
"Well, we have concerns, but we still have a lot of time before opening night," Mitchell said, referring to an Oct. 28 game against the Lakers in Los Angeles. "Ricky's doing his work, so we'll just see. He's doing some individual stuff, just not the live stuff."
Asked if Rubio needs preseason work so he and Mitchell will feel comfortable about his comeback from last season's injury, Mitchell said, "I would like for him, but since we haven't played but one game yet we still think we have a few games yet. He's not going full speed yet."
Rubio traveled with the team to Winnipeg. Mitchell has said there's no need to play Rubio still this early in the preseason until he's able to practice normally.
The Wolves had both Wiggins and fellow Torontonian Anthony Bennett on their roster when they scheduled preseason games in Winnipeg, Toronto and Ottawa. They still have Wiggins after they bought out Bennett's contract before training began and the reigning Rookie of the Year probably will be enough to create a buzz wherever he goes these next five days.
"I've never been to Canada, never been to Winnipeg," teammate Karl-Anthony Towns said. "It's going to be cool, not only to be there but to be in the homeland of Mr. Wiggins."
The Wolves have taken a good look at Wednesday's 122-99 loss to Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and the Thunder and Mitchell thinks that's a good thing even given all his team's mistakes.
"It gives us something to complain about," he said.