Kevin Garnett and Karl-Anthony Towns have been the two starting big men in Pek's absence, which doesn't bode well for him returning to the starting lineup, a place he comfortably sat before getting injured last year. It would be tough to displace the legend KG, especially considering all that he can teach Towns by playing next to him. As for Towns, there's no way Mitchell is sitting his star rookie for a player in Pekovic who is solid but who he's already better than.
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Pek has had perennial injury issues throughout his career. He played in just 31 games last year. Before that, it was 54. Before that, it was 62 and 47 and 65. There is no evidence that Pekovic is actually capable of staying healthy for 82 games in a year, so maybe, after bringing him back from a serious injury, starting wouldn't be the way to go anyway. Maybe the Wolves are best off resting Pekovic, monitoring his minutes and letting him provide some offense off the bench for 20 minutes a night.
He declared himself “not pain-free” but “way better than before” during an update with media members on his road back from April’s Achilles’ tendon surgery intended to resolve a troublesome ankle that has abbreviated his last four seasons.
Returned to running and playing one-on-one against teammate Ricky Rubio and others, Pekovic hopes to join his team for workouts within two weeks, presumably with his return to game action a couple of weeks after that. That’d be just about time to ring in the New Year.
Pekovic has been working with Arnie Kander, vice president of sports performance, daily on everything from boxing to swimming-pool workouts and expects to run harder in the coming days and weeks.
“Hopefully with this surgery I’ve solved all my problems,” said Pekovic, who is owed about $12 million a year for each of two seasons beyond this one. “What I had before, you can never tell if those things are going to come back or if you’re going to feel something different. You can never tell if you’re going to hurt again, but with this progress, I really feel I can come back and play like I used to play before.”