Clearing closet space for when that supermodel moves in. Learning to use the paddle shifters on your new Aston Martin DB9 2+2 coupe. Making room in your NBA team’s rotation for an All-Star power forward.
Certain hardships in life are worth bearing, and the Minnesota Timberwolves are dealing with one now — suddenly, and what should be happily — in adjusting to forward Kevin Love’s surprisingly early return from a broken right hand.
Love beat the prognosis of a 6-to-8 week layoff by anywhere from 1-to-3 weeks Friday when, with only limited practice participation, he started against Denver Wednesday night at Target Center. He scored 34 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, givng the crowd and his team an adrenaline rush that had the Wolves up 17 points in the first half. But things flattened in what became a 101-94 loss and now coach Rick Adelman‘s plucky, scrappy bunch has to adjust to Love’s presence at both ends of the floor.
The alpha Wolf’s ailing paw was sore after he logged 35 minutes vs. the Nuggets, reported beat guy Jerry Zgoda in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He’ll be wearing a fingerless protective glove for a while to ease what Love has been assured by hand specialists will be discomfort but not undue exposure to further injury.
Blending the big fella back into the flow will be up to Dr. Adelman. Obviously, there are worse things than having a key player — arguably the NBA’s most productive power forward, an inside-outside hybrid like few others — plopped into the middle of the action. Time on the practice court should smooth out rough edges, even if it makes the Wolves’ attack slightly less democratic.
Critics might snipe at Love’s defensive limitations and the nips and tucks Minnesota now has to make there to compensate — except that the guy whose minutes Love gobbled Wednesday has been limited himself, both in results and in clues. As Zgoda writes:
Now Adelman must integrate Love back into a team that learned for a month to play without him, starting when the Wolves begin a four-game West Coast trip on Friday at Portland.
And just when Adelman does that, he’ll have to do it over again once Ricky Rubio returns from last March’s knee surgery.
Yes, you can call those good problems to have, even if it likely will leave 2011 No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams on the outside looking. With Love back and Adelman preferring the experience provided by forwards Dante Cunningham and Lou Amundson, Williams went from starting power forward to not playing a second Wednesday night.
“Not much,” Love said when asked about any adjustment period. “I think the biggest thing will just be me getting back in game shape, knowing that when we have a [scoring] drought to play through me. I just haven’t been there. The hand, it has only been five weeks. When it gets to eight weeks, hopefully I’ll be back to the real Kevin Love.”
Dropping the third-person references to himself hopefully is part of Love’s remaining rehab, as the Timberwolves adapt to their unexpected but entirely welcome new normal.