Report: Rubio expects to return in December

MINNEAPOLIS — Ricky watch can officially begin.

Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio, who tore the ACL in his right knee on March 9 in a game against the Lakers, recently told Spanish publication Sport.es that he’s targeting a December return. That would put his recovery at nine months, which would be quick but not necessarily a rush.

“I’m eager to start running, and I think in December I would be ready to play,” Rubio told Sport.es.

Rubio’s surgery was performed March 21, and for much of the summer the Timberwolves remained leery of providing a return target. However, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said in August that a December return date might be feasible.

Rubio had not had an injury of this magnitude before in his career, and at only 21 years old, there’s no reason for him not to be optimistic about regaining his prior form. Still, with the team’s first 82-game season under Rick Adelman looming and a dramatically improved roster, there’s no point in hurrying Rubio’s recovery. The Timberwolves missed Rubio last season, more than they might have imagined. They finished with an 18-13 record in games he started and went 8-27 when he didn’t, but no matter how ready they might be for him to rejoin them, patience will be of the essence.

On June 27, Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said Rubio would be permitted to return to Spain for his rehab after spending the previous three months based in Minneapolis. Even then, Kahn said that training camp, which begins Oct. 2, would be a “pretty accelerated” target for the point guard’s return.

Throughout Rubio’s recovery process, the team has remained positive, if vague, about his return, and Rubio has shared the Timberwolves’ optimism. In his first media appearance after the surgery, Rubio remained overwhelmingly upbeat and confident, and the team has repeatedly assured that it will not rush his recovery.

“You always have to think about everything, but you just have to keep the right (thoughts),” Rubio said in April. “Because if not, you can think, ‘I got hurt. I’m going to be out for six, nine months, and maybe I’m not going to be the player that I was before.’ That’s not the right thing. It can be. But it can be that you are better than you were.”

That’s amazing poise, especially for a young player who’d just experienced what Rubio had. He’s the kind of player that can spark a team. If the Timberwolves only have to play one month this season without him, they should count themselves lucky.

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