For the first time since March 9 of last year, Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio will don a jersey and play in an NBA game. He will play for the Wolves tonight against Dallas at Target Center.
“I’m excited to get back on the floor with my teammates and play in front of the best fans in the NBA at Target Center,” Rubio said in a release sent out by the team. “After a long recovery, this is the first step in my getting back on the court and helping my teammates. Thank you to the fans for their support over the last nine months.’’
It is another signpost on Rubio’s return from a left knee injury sustained in the closing moments of the Wolves’ game with the Los Angeles Lakers last March, when he sustained a torn ACL and LCL. Rubio had surgery to repair the knee March 21. That means his return comes just short of nine months after the surgery, which was performed by Dr. Richard Steadman at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colo.
In 41 games as a rookie, Rubio averaged 10.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie first team and was second behind Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving in voting for Rookie of the Year.
Rubio started 31 of those 41 games, with the Wolves going 18-13 when he started.
It remains to be seen how the Wolves approach Rubio’s return. There is a chance the team’s medical staff could put a minutes limit on him at first. Thursday Wolves coach Rick Adelman said this week there had been extensive discussions about the best way to ease Rubio back into the mix, either as a starter or off the bench.
“I’ve got to look at it not only at Ricky’s point of view but from the whole team’s point of view,” Adelman said.
One thing Adelman stressed was that nobody should put unrealistic expectations on Rubio early in his return. “I think some people, they think that he’s going to come back and everything’s going to be OK,” he said. “You’ve got to give him some time to see where he’s at. He’d only played last year 40-some games. … I’m not putting any expectations on him. I want to see how he does when he plays. We certainly know if he plays the way he played last year, he can make a big difference in our team as far as getting us baskets and stuff. We’ll know when we watch him in games. We’ll know when he comes back the second day after a game, the third day. All those things, they’ll become clear. We do know that if he’s healthy enough to play and he’s playing, that he certainly can make a real positive addition to our team.”
Meanwhile, the team did not give an update on forward Kevin Love, who suffered a contusion on his right (shooting) thumb in the closing moments of Friday's victory in New Orleans.