MINNEAPOLIS -- Chase Budinger lingered after practice on Monday, taking mini-hops as he started to put up jumpers on his surgically repaired left knee.
He's nowhere close to playing in a game for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but Budinger was just happy to be around his teammates again after more than a month of rehab in isolation.
"It feels good to be back around the team," Budinger said. "It was kind of getting a little lonely down there in Florida so it feels great to be back."
The forward signed a three-year, $16 million deal in July, but re-injured the same knee that kept him out for four months last year while he was working out to prepare for this season. Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery, this time removing the damaged portion of the meniscus rather than repairing it as doctors did last year in hopes of shortening the recovery time. Budinger stayed in Florida to work closely with rehab specialists until he was ready to start doing basketball-related activities.
The Wolves are still not putting a timetable on his return to the court, but it would appear that it won't be realistic until the middle of next month at the earliest.
Keep in mind, this does not mean he's anywhere close to actually playing. Currently Budinger's schedule is rehab drills...not even practice drills, much less a practice scrimmage. The team hasn't commented on a return timetable for him, but it looks like the January rumors are pretty accurate right now.
In any case, the Wolves may want to move ahead now on any trades they can chase down to lift the bench. Adelman's shortened rotation has stopped the bleeding, so to speak, but it's going to exact a heavy toll later in the year when those minutes really pile up on the starters.
If it's not clear that Derrick Williams is not part of the future of this team, I'm not sure what else to tell you. And Shved has absolutely fallen off a cliff early this season. Between that and neither Budinger or Turiaf on a set timetable....and Adelman using a guy who's had multiple ACL injuries to fill the void...the Wolves should probably not wait until everyone's back to make the call.
I'm not even sure I'd wait until Dec 15th...