Rubio cleared for full-contact practices

MINNEAPOLIS – The state of Minnesota just let out a massive sigh. After an eight-month absence, Ricky Rubio is back – well, almost.

The Timberwolves announced Wednesday that Rubio has been cleared to participate in full-contact practices with no limitations. He visited with Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo., early this week, and this was the outcome the team expected going into the final consultation.

Rubio tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee March 9 during the Timberwolves’ home loss to the Lakers. He had surgery to repair the torn ligaments nearly two weeks later, on March 21, and now, just eight months and a week later, he’s been cleared to play. It’s a quick recovery from an injury that usually takes a minimum of nine months of rehab, and now Rubio will work to integrate himself into the Timberwolves’ system.

After spending the beginning of this season on the bench and getting very involved with the team’s game plans, Rubio began participating in no-contact 5-on-0 drills earlier this month, and coach Rick Adelman said it was clear that the point guard was completely familiar with all the team’s plays. Now he’ll just have to adjust to the physicality of the game and get his legs back under him, and the team is not giving any projections as to when he’ll play in his first game.

For his part, Rubio is well aware of the need to gradually phase his way back into the game, and he knows that he won’t be playing big minutes to start. He’ll be gradually eased into the offense, especially after such a quick recovery, sharing minutes with J.J. Barea and Luke Ridnour.

The Timberwolves will return home after Wednesday night’s game against the Clippers in Los Angeles. The team hasn’t announced if it will practice Thursday after this back-to-back on the road, but by this weekend at the latest, Rubio will be on the court and practicing with the rest of his healthy teammates.

This is what the Timberwolves have been anticipating for months.

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