Love’s latest hand evaluation delayed

MINNEAPOLIS – The Timberwolves’ medical staff consulted with Kevin Love’s doctors in New York on Friday, and both parties ultimately decided to delay reevaluating the power forward until next week.

Love traveled to New York on March 13, when he hoped to get clearance to return to full-contact practices eight weeks after undergoing surgery on his broken right hand. Clearance was not granted, but Love’s surgeon confirmed that his recovery was proceeding well and said that he would be reevaluated in two to three weeks.

Last Sunday, Love spoke to the media and indicated that he’d be undergoing a CT scan on the hand this week, which would be sent to New York in order to obtain the clearance he’s been hoping for. This decision to wait another week does not necessarily represent a delay in the process – it’s still within that two- to three-week window after his last visit – but it’s outside the expectations Love had for the process just five days before, and he has not yet had the CT scan.

Love has been adamant since he returned to Minneapolis after the surgery that he hopes to play again this season, no matter how short the amount of time he’ll have. In late February, he was hoping to be back on the court for the team’s final 15 to 20 games, he said, but that number has been diminishing ever since. Now, more than 10 weeks after the surgery and with likely another week and a half before Love might be ready for game action, the situation is looking even more murky.

As it stands, Love will not likely be able to play in more than eight games for a team that could end the season in the cellar of the Western Conference. That doesn’t sound like the most ideal of circumstances, even with the Timberwolves’ desire to see their full team on the court for just a few games, and Love did admit Sunday that if there were another delay in the process, he’d have to reevaluate his priorities in terms of a return.

“If the doctor says another week to 10 days or something like that, who knows?” he said.

But in this case, the doctor seems to have said nothing, and so any thought as to this latest development keeping Love out until next season would be little more than speculation. Coach Rick Adelman said Friday that in his opinion, even just a few games with Love on the court would be beneficial, no matter how inconsequential it might seem.

“Yeah, it’s just what it is,” Adelman said when asked whether time might be running out on Love’s season. “Like I said before, I’ve got to coach the guys that are here. I would love to see him get out there and play. It certainly would help us. We’d see guys playing together that haven’t played together all year. But we’ve got to worry about the team we have and go with the guys we have.”

Regardless, Love’s recovery has taken longer than the eight- to 10-week window initially presented after the surgery, and the Timberwolves are fortunate to not be counting on Love’s return or the inherent boost to their record it would provide. There’s no pressure at this point, save the chance to see what might have been.

Love broke his shooting hand for the second time since October on Jan. 3 in a game against Denver. He’s played in just 18 games this season, averaging 18.2 points on 35.2 percent shooting and 14.0 rebounds per game.

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