Chase Budinger was quickly blossoming into a reliable, and on occasion dynamic, swingman upon reuniting with Coach Rick Adelman in Minnesota.
Just as fast, he was sidelined by a knee injury which will keep him out for quite a bit. That’s just the way that it goes for the hard-luck Timberwolves these days.
Budinger will schedule surgery this week to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee, the Timberwolves said. The surgery will keep him out indefinitely, with a clear schedule being established right after he has got the procedure.
It’s the latest in a slew of injuries to key players for the Wolves, who are attempting to make the playoffs for the 1st time since 2004. All-Star forward Kevin Love is expected to miss at least the 1st month of the season with a broken right hand and electrical point guard Ricky Rubio isn’t expected back till the middle of December as he continues rehabbing a torn ACL in his left knee suffered last March.
Budinger was injured Saturday night in Chicago when he landed awkwardly and twisted his left knee under the basket. He was filling in as a starter for Brandon Roy, who missed the game with a sore right knee. The Wolves are also missing backup point guard JJ Barea, who is out with a sprained left foot.
In a quest to add more veterans to a young team, the Timberwolves traded the 18th pick in the June draft to Houston for Budinger, who had played under Adelman with the Houston Rockets 2 years ago. Adelman coveted his ability to move without the ball and shoot from the outside, and both skills were fully on show early in the season for the Wolves.
Budinger is averaging 11.8 points, and his heady cut to the basket from beyond the 3-point line as time was winding down against Indiana led to a wide-open layup that took the game for the Wolves. His versatility to play both shooting guard and small forward helped offset Timberwolves’ concerns when Roy tweaked his knee against the Pacers and helped the Wolves to a surprising 4-1 start without their 2 best players. Basketball spreads
But now Budinger will be out for an extended period of time. Typical rehab for an injury of this kind can last 2 months or even more, a tough blow for the Wolves and for Budinger, who is in a contract year.
Of course, the stories could have been worse. When Budinger went down against the Bulls and was not able to put any weight on his left leg, many worried that he had torn the ACL and would miss the remainder of the season. Now it’s possible he might be back before the All-Star break, though the Wolves will not know how long it will take till doctors get a better look at the extent of the damage during the surgery.
How the Minnesota Timberwolves will fill Budinger’s minutes is still to be seen. If Roy cannot play, Russian rookie Alexey Shved could get the start at shooting guard because Adelman simply doesn’t have any other alternatives.