They waited two years for him after spending the No. 5 pick in the 2009 draft on a worth-the-gamble move. What’s the big deal if the Minnesota Timberwolves have to wait another three months? Or even four?
Ricky Rubio wants to be ready when he’s ready.
Only days shy of a training camp he’ll experience mostly as a bystander, Rubio continued his rehabilitation from knee surgery at the team’s practice facility. He is one of several NBA guards (Derrick Rose, Eric Maynor, Iman Schumpert) fighting back from torn ligaments, each on a timetable dictated less by the date of his injury than his body’s reaction to the repair.
Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune caught up with Rubio Thursday:
Back running on his surgically repaired knee for the third week now, … Rubio stopped long enough Thursday at Target Center to show off three scars that stripe his left leg and said he could play his next NBA game by December, nine months after he tore two ligaments there.
“I don’t know, they say December, but it could be January,” he said. “I don’t want to say a time because I don’t want to rush it. I want to be ready when I am ready.”
Rubio returned to Vail, Colo., three weeks ago for another checkup with his surgeon and was given approval to begin running again in three- minute segments alternated with walking.
He plans one more trip there to see knee specialist Dr. Richard Steadman.
“But it’s just to shake the hand with the doctor when I’m ready, when I’m ready to roll,” he said.
Wolves owner Glen Taylor was the one who said recently that he thought Rubio would be back by Christmas. And it’s easy to appreciate Minnesota’s urgency. It was 21-20 when he collided with Lakers star Kobe Bryant, a tangle more awkward than violent on March 9. Forget any playoff arc; the Wolves went 5-20 the rest of the way.
Rubio’s season – 10.6 ppg, 8.2 apg, a nightly highlight pass and better defense than most insiders expected – was over. So was his summer, which would have included a spot on Spain’s roster at the London Olympics. Instead, he watched, which he’ll do next week when the Wolves head to Mankato, Minn., for their camp.
David Kahn, president of basketball operations, said he wants the second-year point guard to be around the team as much as possible – on the road, at practices, absorbing everything. But that doesn’t mean Rubio should rush, no matter how tough things get patching together the backcourt with Luke Ridnour, J.J. Barea, Russian import Alexey Shved and Brandon Roy, making a far iffier comeback than Rubio.
[Rubio] said Steadman told him he can begin jumping by November, but Rubio is hopeful it’s before then and insists he’s not putting any timetable on the steps to his return.
“There’s not a time because it depends on how the knee goes,” he said. “Now I start running and I feel good. In three, four weeks, I’m gonna start agility and if my knee swells a little bit, I have to stop. If not, I’m going to keep pushing it. I’m trying to do as much as I can do. They have to stop me sometimes because I want to do more. Sometimes it’s just bad for my knee to do more things.”
And what’s bad for Rubio’s knee is bad for the Wolves, who will wait a little longer.