Fractured hand sidelines Timberwolves’ Love

MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love fractured the third and fourth metacarpals on his right (shooting) hand Wednesday morning while working out.

He is expected to miss six to eight weeks with the injury, which will be evaluated Thursday by Dr. Andy Weiland, a hand specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Love scored 24 points in Tuesday’s preseason win against Maccabi Bazan Haifa after missing the previous preseason game with a sore right elbow. He also missed the final seven games of last season with a concussion.

With Love’s injury, coach Rick Adelman will continue to tinker with possible combinations. Lou Amundson, Dante Cunningham and Derrick Williams could all get large boosts to their minutes with the Olympian’s absence, and Adelman said Wednesday he believes Andrei Kirilenko could also be effective at power forward.

“Derrick Williams worked really hard this summer, said he wanted a chance to play and got himself into great shape,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said. “This is going to be an opportunity for him get the playing time. Dante Cunningham wasn’t satisfied where he played and wanted to come to a team like us to get a chance to play, and he’s probably going to more chance to play than he anticipated.”

Taylor said Wednesday night that he did not have any further specific details about the injury. He received a call this morning that Love had hurt his hand and was heading to the doctor; the rest is history. Taylor said his initial reaction to the injury was, “Why us?” but he mentioned that he’d been through this before, two seasons ago with the Lynx, which he also owns.

Taylor has not spoken to president of basketball operations David Kahn, Adelman or Love since the injury, and he can’t speak yet about any roster moves that might occur due to the injury. However, the possibility seems unlikely, especially with the projected length of Love’s recovery.

“Initially my thoughts are we have two young guys (Williams and Cunningham) on the team who want to play and want more time; let’s look at them first,” Taylor said. “But I think… all options are open at this time, and you’ll look at all possibilities.”

The Timberwolves lost all but one of those last seven games in the spring without Love, and his injury will put a damper on the team’s optimism entering the season.
If he misses six weeks, his return date would be sometime the week after Thanksgiving, about 14 games into the season. Fortunately for the Timberwolves, they do not face a particularly difficult set of opponents in November; the Pacers, Nuggets and Clippers may be the toughest opponents the team will likely face without Love.

The team will also be without second-year point guard Ricky Rubio until December or January. Rubio was a Rookie of the Year candidate until suffering a torn ACL in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on March 9. The team was 21-19 and in the playoff hunt at the time of the injury and went 5-21 in its final 26 games.

“My hope is the coach working with these players will make something positive out of it and a couple guys will step up and maybe lead the way, be the starter,” Taylor said. “Then Kevin will be back, which I think will be just a few weeks of playing time, then we’ll be better prepared for the future.

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