Budinger Latest Man Down As Injuries Zap 5 of Timberwolves’ Top 7

CHICAGO — When it snows, it blizzards. Or whatever the rains-pours parallel would be for the frosty Upper Midwest, where the Minnesota Timberwolves are getting buried by enough injuries to bring out the plows.

Chase Budinger, the hero 24 hours earlier for his cut-and-layup in the Wolves’ buzzer-beating defeat of Indiana, was the latest to fall, getting helped off the court early in the fourth quarter of their 87-80 loss to the Bulls at United Center. Budinger went down not far from the Chicago bench, given a little extra push according to Minnesota teammates who saw it. All the 6-foot-7 forward knew was that his foot got caught beneath him, putting torque on his left knee.

“It was one of those crazy plays where my foot got stuck,” Budinger said, pausing as he exited the visitors’ dressing room on crutches. “It got tangled up. I felt my leg twist.”

An X-ray was inconclusive, so the next step is a magnetic resonance imaging test Sunday in Dallas. The Wolves already were anticipating some word there on guard J.J. Barea’s availability for their game Monday against the Mavericks; the point guard suffered a left mid-foot sprain Wednesday against Orlando and didn’t travel to Chicago.

Shooting guard Brandon Roy also missed the Bulls game after developing soreness in his right knee Friday against the Pacers. Then there’s Kevin Love (broken right hand) and Ricky Rubio (rehab from knee surgery), putting five of Minnesota’s top seven players or so on the side or in the trainers’ room.

“It sucks,” Budinger said. “The injuries are tough. It’s frustrating because I’ve never had a knee problem [like this]. So getting all these questions about it, I don’t really know how to respond to ’em. I’ve never had it before. So we’ll just wait till tomorrow, see what the MRI says.”

At 4-2, Minnesota had started well in its goal to stay at or near .500 until the heavy lifters got back sometime after Thanksgiving (Love) or Christmas (Rubio). But that chore gets tougher as the herd gets thinned. Forget the luxury of having a “go-to guy” — through six games, five different players have led the Wolves in scoring. It’s rapidly become a whoever, whatever, whenever situation. This latest might have team president David Kahn reaching out to available free agent Mickael Pietrus or someone else ambulatory and with a pulse.

‘That’s something that, as a team, we didn’t sit and talk about but it’s just the feeling in the room,” forward Dante Cunningham said of holding it together. “We’re just doing our part. Injuries happen, obviously, but you have to continue to strive for your main goal. Just because we lose a couple people, we can’t lose heart on the season.”

Said coach Rick Adelman, who coached through the injury hells of Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady: “I don’t understand it … I thought maybe it was just in Minnesota, but it’s on the road, too. Other guys have to step up. The league hasn’t given us a reprieve till we get those guys back.”


  1. Cody says:

    Whatever luck has to do with it doesn’t matter one bit. The Wolves are performing well so far, and they are keeping wonderfully positive attitudes about it. They can get this season done. Patience and playing the game they know is key.

  2. Ricardo says:

    The Timberwolves and the Blazers are the two most unluckiest teams in the league, injury wise. And the Rockets came in third place in that department.
    The Blazers had the pieces to be a top team in the NBA for several years: a front court of Oden and Aldridge and with Roy on the back court, they should have been a team to fear. But Oden and Roy went down with some of the most nagging injuries that I ever seen and even Aldridge has had his share of ailments in the past. Lets hope Lillard doesn’t follow in the same curse.
    But this season’s Wolves, come on.. Its ridiculous. They have 7 of its 15 roster players sidelined. That’s almost half of the team down and we aren’t even a month into the season..
    Lets hope that David Khan make peace with whatever God he has angered in the last years…

  3. bucksball says:

    I pity this team, that has had such horrible luck since about 2004, back when they had KG and last made the playoffs. Since then its been injury after injury. It really is luck to have a 4-2 start but i don’t think that they can afford one more injury or they’ll have no playoff appearance for the ninth straight year

  4. jmndodge says:

    The Budinger injury might have the most sever consequences. Chase was an energy guy who came into the game and performed will at both the SF/SG positions. With Roy and JJ both limited with injury – Shved becomes a critical part of this teams present. Shved is talented, young and has considerable European experience, but Adelman had hoped to work in into the flow gradually. All of a sudden the SG position falls squarely on his shoulders. Luke seems to be moving well – but has history of back problems, M. Lee is talented, came in under fire and played well but is severely limited in experience. AK might be asked to pick up some of the slack at SG – the only good news in that situation is that both SF/SG are “wing positions” in Adelmans system. Dante Cunningham is playing very well, perhaps D-will and Dante will need to work the forward position at the same time. I’m still hoping that Roy/Budinger/Rubio/Love/JJ will all have time health together, and we are not in a deep hole by the first of the year. Mend quickly Chase — Coach, protect the season and players, don’t sacrifice them for a single victory.