MINNEAPOLIS – Timberwolves small forward Chase Budinger will miss three to four months after surgery Tuesday to repair the torn meniscus in his left knee, according to the team.
Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery. Andrews’ list of previous patients includes Michael Jordan, Jack Nicklaus, Drew Brees and John Smoltz. During surgery, the meniscus was completely repaired, which will allow Budinger a full recovery.
Budinger was injured during Saturday’s 87-80 loss in Chicago, when he was shifted into the starting lineup to replace an injured Brandon Roy. With six minutes remaining in the game, Budinger fell out of the scrum of players under the Timberwolves’ basket. The consensus in the locker room among coaches and players was that he was shoved from behind, and Budinger said that his foot got caught during the fall, wrenching his knee into a twisted position.
He traveled with the team to Dallas, where an MRI revealed the tear. The three-month recovery estimate would put him back in the lineup in mid-February, likely sometime around the All-Star break, and the Timberwolves will miss his presence until then. In the team’s first six games, he averaged 11.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists.
Budinger is the third member of the Timberwolves sidelined with a long-term injury, and he’ll likely be the last to return. Both power forward Kevin Love (broken hand) and point guard Ricky Rubio (torn ACL) are on pace to come back in December. The other three players who have missed time with injuries – guard J.J. Barea (foot), center Nikola Pekovic (ankle) and Roy (knee) – are poised for quicker returns. There’s been no update on Pekovic’s sprained ankle since he sustained the injury Monday night, but he reportedly told coach Rick Adelman that he was OK. Whether that means he’s back in the lineup for Wednesday’s game against Charlotte remains to be seen. Both Roy and Barea, though, seem like reasonable candidates to return this week.