Ricky Rubio in 'amazingly good spirits' as he continues lengthy rehab
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Ten weeks removed from undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio is slowly progressing through the early stages of his rehab.
Rubio, who suffered the season-ending injury on March 9 against the Los Angeles Lakers, is still weeks away from being cleared for basketball-related activities. But Wolves general manager David Kahn said the star Spanish guard is beginning to shed the blatant, exterior reminders of the injury.
"He's in amazingly good spirits, considering he hasn't been able to play basketball for a long time," Kahn said, speaking on Thursday after a pair of pre-draft workouts held by the Wolves. "He's starting to look, I don't want to say the word normal but there are no crutches. There is no heavy limp. He kind of looks the same now. It's nice to see."
Rubio, with his knee still encased in a brace, has remained stationed in the Twin Cites since traveling to Vail, Colo., where the surgery was performed, for a routine check-up on May 7. Early indications were that Rubio was considering doing his rehab in familiar surroundings in Spain, but Kahn said he will remain stateside until at least mid-July.
Clearance to go elsewhere would have to come first from his doctors, who Rubio is scheduled to meet with again in Colorado during the third week of June.
"It's the doctors that will be determining that. Not myself. Not the organization. Not Ricky," Kahn said. "The way the doctors presented it to him last time was that we will maybe discuss it on this next visit depending on how that goes."
If Rubio does take his rehab to Spain, Kahn insisted a representative from the team would accompany him, citing that his recovery is "just too important" not to.
When Rubio first addressed reporters about the injury in early April, shortly after his surgery, the 21-year-old phenom placed a six to nine month window on when to expect him to resume practicing with the team. Less than two months in, it remains too early to firmly address speculation that he could be ready for the start of the 2012-13 season. Though Rubio has experienced no reported setbacks, the road back to where he was before his startling successful debut season was derailed is arduously long.
Given the fluid nature of the recovery process, the Wolves have declined discussing when they anticipate Rubio to be back.
"It's too early, Kahn said. "All these timetables are not necessary at this time. The main thing is for him to heal and get better as quickly as possible, but without putting any undue pressure on him."
While it's not a safe bet to assume Rubio will be in the starting line-up when the new season begins, center Nikola Pekovic is tracking towards being cleared for on-court workouts next month.
Pekovic was in New York City Thursday to visit with Dr. Martin O'Malley two weeks after having bone spurs removed from his right ankle. Kahn reported no snags from the check-up. Pekovic will now return home to Montenegro before moving back to the United States in mid-July
The ankle injury considerably slowed Pekovic down in the final weeks of what was a breakout season for the Wolves big man. Pekovic finished as the team's second-leading scorer behind Kevin Love, averaging 13.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Keep it or trade it
Shouldered with the 18th pick, the Wolves have four weeks until the NBA draft commences on June 28 to decide whether to deal the selection for experienced help or to hold on to it.
With the draft order now set, the discussions among teams are starting to ramp up. Kahn confirmed he has already taken calls from several potential suitors and that he was approached by various team representatives during the Thursday workout sessions.
"It happened to me a couple of times today that people pulled me aside and sort of dropped a hint or even more forceful than that," Kahn said.
Trading the pick is a real possibility as the Wolves have a number of areas in need of upgrading, specifically at shooting guard and small forward.
"It has to be factored in," Kahn said. "It has to be part of the thinking as we determine what to do. I wouldn't say it's one way or another. It's reality."
The Wolves also own the 28th pick in the second round.
Working it out
Larry Bird and Mitch Kupchak were among the numerous general managers and team officials in town Thursday to watch the Timberwolves annual pre-draft workouts.
The list of prospects on display included mainly players targeted to go somewhere in the second round. New Mexico guard Drew Gordon, projected by DraftExpress.com as the 39th overall pick, and Texas' J'Covan Brown highlighted the first session, while Quincy Acy of Baylor and former Iona standout Scott Machado were among the six prospects in the latter group.
Playing in front of a packed gym filled with executives, such as Bird, and scouts who will be critical in determining their futures was a nerve-wracking adjustment for the players.
"It's hard. It's like playing in a big ACC game. You've got the nerves running. Those were your heroes going up," said former Duke center Miles Plumlee, who worked out with the first group. "You've got to kind of block it out and go out there and play hard ... I was standing there thinking 'I never thought I'd be playing in front of Larry Bird when I was growing up.'"
Two more sessions will be held Friday, with Marcus Denmon (Missouri), JaMychal Green (Alabama) and Robbie Hummel (Purdue) part of the 12 players scheduled to attend.
Following the NBA scouting combine on June 7-8 in Chicago, the Wolves will hold private workouts for players they are considering taking with their first round pick. Kahn said six to eight players have been confirmed, but scheduling prospects to visit the Twin Cities has been more difficult than in years past based on their position in the draft
"We've got about 35 players who all think they're going to be in the lottery and they are a little hesitant to come work out at 18, but those things will sort themselves out," Kahn said.
• Nearly eight months after parting ways with the Wolves, former assistant general manager Tony Ronzone was in attendance Thursday. Ronzone, who reportedly left as a result of repeated disagreements with Kahn regarding the team's future, is currently working as a consultant with the Dallas Mavericks.
• In the bizarre sighting of the day former Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb was spotted in the corner of the Wolves' practice facility watching the workouts.