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Why the Minnesota Timberwolves Must Not Rush Ricky Rubio Back

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Why the Minnesota Timberwolves Must Not Rush Ricky Rubio Back
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On March 9, 2012, the promising rookie season of Ricky Rubio ended. He finished the season averaging 10.6 points, 8.2 assists while finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting.

Rubio tore his ACL and LCL, which sometimes require up to a full year of recovery. First it was announced that he would be ready to return in January.

Now there is some talk that he could return as early as December while some fans have even suggested he could play in the season opener against the Sacramento Kings.

Rushing Rubio back would be a huge mistake, and here is why.

The history of players having setbacks in recovery and rehab is long. There is also a fairly long list of guys who continually re-injure themselves.

Let's look at former Milwaukee Bucks' guard Michael Redd. Redd tore his left ACL and MCL in January 2009. He then miraculously was ready for the season opener on October 30, almost nine months to the day of his injury.

However, for Redd, he was forced to miss 16 of the team's first 34 games. In game 34, he re-tore his ACL and MCL, almost a full year after the first injury. Redd then missed all but 10 games the next season, taking almost a full 14 months off to recover.

Isn't the thought of that similarly happening to Rubio keeping T-wolves fans up at night?

Alternatively, there sure is plenty of success stories as well. One that the Minnesota faithful still probably remembers is Al Jefferson's February 2009 knee injury, which he successfully overcame to play in 76 games the following season.

Nick Laham/Getty Images

Another example is Jamal Crawford. He tore his ACL in July 2001, and then he returned to action in March 2002. Following his ACL injury, he only missed four games over the next two seasons.

So what are the odds that the T-wolves could get lucky twice with another quick recovery?

Maybe 50/50, but wouldn't it be better to be safe than sorry? I'd hate to see the career of a promising young star end before it even really starts.

Why not follow the plan of the Chicago Bulls when it comes to Derrick Rose?

Rose suffered his ACL injury at the end of April about two months after Rubio. While people in Minnesota are wondering when Rubio will return, people in Chicago are wondering if Rose will play at all this season. Now that is partly due to timing, but the other reason has to do with the severity of an ACL injury.

Let's not have a deadline marked in our calendars for Rubio's return. Let's base his return on what the doctors say and err on the side of caution. Let's not base it on the league's standings.

The worst thing that could happen is if Rubio is prompted to return early due to the team's struggles only to be hurt all over again. Not only will he have lost his progress in recovery, but the team would have also lost the season all together as well.

If I were general manager David Kahn, I would rule out Rubio returning in 2012. I would only discuss a plan for his return come January 1.

Maybe, at first, allow him to come off the bench for the first 10 games or so. Once he has proven that the knee is healthy and is responding well in practice and games, then it should be time for him to start.

Even once he has successfully reinserted himself back in the starting lineup, they should still be careful with his minutes. 

Only after all of that, and the season is over, should then the Wolves be able to sit back and relax. That is as long as Kevin Love is happy.

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