MINNEAPOLIS — For the first time since April, Chase Budinger will suit up for a basketball game.
Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said his injured small forward will be back in the lineup Wednesday night for Minnesota’s late home matchup with the Phoenix Suns. During pre-camp workouts, Budinger re-damaged the left-knee meniscus he tore last season and had a second surgery performed on it.
That’s kept him out of every game this season. He spent 2 ½ months rehabbing in Pensacola, Fla., and was cleared for full-contact practice Dec. 18.
"He hasn’t played for a year," Adelman said, exaggerating somewhat. "We’ve just got to watch him and see how he reacts to it and everything."
Budinger came back from his first operation to play in Minnesota’s final 17 regular-season games last season. He missed 59 games in 2012-13 and the Timberwolves’ first 34 outings this season.
Adelman said he’ll be on a minutes limit to start, likely in the 15-20 range.
Budinger declined to talk to reporters before Wednesday’s game.
It’s the second piece of good news in as many contests for Adelman, who had Ronny Turiaf available for the first time since Nov. 1 in Monday’s win against Philadelphia. The backup center had been out with a fractured bone in his right elbow.
The return of both is hoped to shore up a bench that’s been anything but consistent this season. Budinger can step out and hit 3s — a threat the second unit has sought since the season’s outset — and Turiaf is a viable rim protector.
Turiaf had about a month of preseason to get his legs under him before his injury. Budinger didn’t have that benefit and is still returning to full conditioning capacity, Adelman said.
"He feels OK; he’s just sore," Adelman said. "He’s been going through training camp, basically. I think it’s gonna take him a little bit of time, and it’s gonna take our guys a little bit to figure out what he can do."
Minnesota forward Luc Mbah a Moute (strained left groin) was out Wednesday for a third straight game.