Two weeks ago, the Timberwolves internally set Wednesday's game against Denver as the target date for Ricky Rubio's long-awaited return from March knee surgery.
On Monday, coach Rick Adelman said he still doesn't know if Rubio will return against the Nuggets, Saturday against Dallas or somewhere there beyond.
He said that decision will depend on strength and endurance testing of Rubio's left knee and a consensus between management and the medical staff about what's best given that the team will play four games in five nights -- three of them on the road -- after Wednesday's game.
"He could go out and play some right now, but is that the smart thing to do?" Adelman asked. "I'd like to see him where he's ready to go, and right now I don't think anybody can gauge that. He seems fine given the injury he had, but you don't want him to get other injuries by going out too soon and pulling a muscle, doing something like that."
Other decisions that still must be determined after Rubio's knee is next tested, a process that Adelman says occurs "almost every other day": Will he be restricted to a certain number of minutes? Will he be allowed to play back-to-back games, such as Friday at New Orleans and Saturday at home or Monday at Orlando and Tuesday at Miami.
"He wants to play every time, all the time and all the minutes; we'll just have to see," Adelman said. "We have to see if there's a minutes limitation. I've been through that with Yao [Ming], and it's not easy to determine that. Is it better to have him play one half or play the start of one quarter and the end of another quarter? Those are things we'll have to figure out.
"It doesn't just affect him. It affects the whole team and how you play other people."
TALK IS CHEAP
Second-year forward Derrick Williams said he hasn't talked with president of basketball operations David Kahn about trade rumors that last week had him headed with center Nikola Pekovic away in a deal that supposedly would bring Pau Gasol to Minnesota.
"I don't think we necessarily need to talk like that," Williams said. "Myself and Pek are a big part of the team. We need Pek on this team. We need myself, too. As long as we keep winning, all the trade talk will stop."
Williams -- selected No. 2 overall in 2011 -- hasn't played a second in four of the past nine games now that Kevin Love has returned from a season-opening hand injury and Andrei Kirilenko on Friday returned after missing four games because of back spasms.
So far, he has remained patient and said Monday that he and his agent talk daily but haven't discussed requesting a trade. Asked if he has unlimited patience, he said, "I wouldn't say that. I'm a patient player, so I've just got to do with what I have. If I get 10 minutes, I get 10 minutes. (Love and Kirilenko) are both good players. It doesn't mean I'm not a good player or anything like that.
"It's Coach's decision whether he plays me or not, whether he plays anybody. I think with Kevin and A.K. back, it makes our team a little bit better. I'm not going to complain about who is playing or who's not going to play."
STEP BY STEP
Guard Brandon Roy shot on his own again Monday in his second day back with the team from arthroscopic knee surgery. Adelman said Roy will work on his own without practice this week. If he progresses, his activity will be ramped up next week.
"He looks fine when he's shooting and everything else," Adelman said. "Once he starts activity, where he's cutting and doing those things, we'll know more about him."
RICK ON PEK
Adelman said Pekovic practiced unaffected Monday by the ailing ankle that bothered him during three games last week.
"He looked good," Adelman said. "He said he's feeling pretty good."
Wild coach Mike Yeo watched Monday's practice and talked with Adelman for about 20 minutes afterward. One of the topics: how to prepare a team to play a condensed schedule caused by a labor lockout.
Adelman has done so twice, including last season's 66-game schedule. Yeo will have that challenge if the NHL and its players can reach a new labor deal soon.
Yeo also has met with a couple of college-hockey coaches during all this free time when he's also gone to Houston to watch the Wild's farm team play and spent bonus time with his hockey-playing children.
"Doing whatever I can to stay sharp and not just kill this time but use it productively in some manner," Yeo said.
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