Wessel: Timeline on Kevin Love provides even more bad news for Wolves
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MINNEAPOLIS -- With Derrick Williams pouring in a career-high 28 points in Sunday's win over the New Orleans Hornets, there was a small ray of light at the end of the tunnel for the Minnesota Timberwolves as this disastrous season mercifully gets dragged behind the woodshed.
But the news that Kevin Love is still two to three weeks away from returning from his twice-broken hand almost guarantees this season won't go out on much of a high note.
Just like the 2010 Minnesota Vikings where it wasn't done raining dog crap on them until the roof of their stadium literally collapsed, you just knew the Wolves were going to have to taste the burn of one more shot of bad news in a season where Murphy's Law has played out before their eyes.
Thankfully, as far as we know, the structural integrity of the Target Center is intact, but this Love news stings. If he comes back in exactly two weeks from his last checkup, there will be 12 games left in the season. The more realistic timeframe of three weeks leaves just eight games. It will take at least a handful of games to play his way back into game shape and might take even longer to find his shooting touch, something he failed to do in 18 games in between broken hands earlier this season.
The thought was that Love would be cleared (as was expected) last week for contact and that would give him a month of games to play his way into game shape and shooting rhythm while getting on the same page with his teammates. Love has yet to be on the court with Chase Budinger, who will soon return from a knee injury he suffered five games into the year. Love and Andrei Kirilenko have played just 18 games together. Perhaps most alarming is Love and Rubio have only spent 28 minutes on the court together in their second year as teammates.
Both Love and Rick Adelman both said before the setback that it was important Love can get back out on the court before season's end. A full month -- as abbreviated as that may seem -- would have given the coaching staff and front office a better look at how Love plays with a pair of players in Budinger and Kirilenko before heading into an offseason where their futures are up in the air.
Conventional wisdom says it'd be best to just go ahead and shut Love down for the season. As this franchise knows all too well, late season losses are actually wins when it comes to lottery balls. But this is a team that desperately needs some positive momentum heading into next season. There are rows and rows of empty seats and the television ratings are downright embarrassing. Season ticket prices are rising and fans are upset. This franchise doesn't have the luxury of throwing in the towel on a season. They have played that card too many times in the last decade.
The Wolves need something, anything, to give them a boost. Love returning for the final month and the team rattling off some wins would have given them momentum heading into next season. But that ray of light is now gone and the only silver lining left is that the Wolves could still end up with the third most ping pong balls in the annual draft lottery.