Wolves leading scorer Martin close to return, NBDL stint possible

Kevin Martin, who fractured his wrist Nov. 19, is ahead of schedule and could return to Minnesota in two weeks.

Jesse Johnson/Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — When Kevin Martin, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic all went down with injuries earlier this season, the eldest of them thought he’d be the last to return.

But after fracturing his right wrist Nov. 19 and missing the Wolves’ past 21 games, the 31-year-old Martin, who is averaging a team-high 20.4 points per game, thinks he might be ahead of schedule.

"At first, I thought I was going to be the last one back," the shooting guard said before Thursday’s home game against Sacramento. "But I woke up yesterday and we did some intense treatment on it, then came in here and did a lot of shooting. I just now did more shooting and it actually feels good."

Martin had surgery on the wrist Nov. 25 in Cleveland. The timetable for his return was set at 6-to-8 weeks.

But Martin, who’d injured the same bone in his other (non-shooting) wrist earlier in his career, was worried he might be out longer than that. He fractured his left wrist and missed 10 weeks during the 2009-10 season with Sacramento and Houston.

He could be back within the next two weeks, both he and Saunders have said. That’d put him near the seven-week mark since the operation.

After a Wednesday conversation with Martin, Saunders believes the 11th-year veteran would consider an NBA D-League stint to complete his rehab.

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"He seems more open to going down there to just get his rhythm and get acclimated a little bit," Saunders said.

But Martin doesn’t seem as keen on the idea.

"We talked yesterday and it’ll definitely come down to my decision," Martin said. "I’m at the point where I don’t really know how much sense that makes. I haven’t been out a year, I don’t have any chronic injuries. I’ve had this injury before. I’ve had other injuries. I know what it takes for me to get back.

"I’m a gazelle. I can run all day, so that’s not the concern at the moment."

Pekovic and Rubio, meanwhile, are also hoping to return by mid-January. Pekovic — whom Saunders also may send to the D-League — plans to have an MRI performed on his sore ankle next week, and if everything turns up clear he may soon return to enduring contact at practice. Rubio’s sprained ankle still has him out indefinitely.

All three injured players participated in 5-on-0, dummy-offense work at Wednesday’s practice.

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