Shootaround Acess: Wolves at Suns | Feb. 25, 2014




Timberwolves at Suns | 8:00 PM — US Airways Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North

Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

The Timberwolves will be without shooting guard Kevin Martin at least for one more game, although his status to return remains indefinite as the Wolves prepare to face the Suns tonight. Minnesota announced Martin, who went to Los Angeles on Monday for a second opinion on his broken left thumb, is progressing well but will not be available tonight against Phoenix.

As for center Nikola Pekovic, the possibility of a return remains but still very much in doubt. He’s listed as questionable tonight, and he’s been working out each day trying to see how much of the in-game stress he can put on his right ankle.

So far, he’s getting some days where the pain seems to subside and others where it returns. Ultimately, he’ll confer with the Timberwolves’ training staff before tonight’s contest and will go from there. “I still can’t really promise anything, unfortunately,” Pekovic said at shootaround. “I would like, if I could play minutes today, but I still have to do some things today so we’ll see how it goes.”

Pekovic has worked hard over the past week since returning to basketball activities, testing that ankle in practices, shootarounds, pregame and on off days. He said he went to Arizona State University yesterday when the team got into the Phoenix area to work out with assistant coach Jack Sikma, among others, and tested himself.

It’s hard to detect just how the ankle will respond, and it’s important to make sure his ankle is ready before the team puts him out on the floor again.

“It’s tough going through all this stuff, like trying to, you know, make it better—trying to work really hard and everything,” Pekovic said. “All of a sudden, sometimes you feel pain and sometimes you don’t feel pain. Sometimes I don’t really know, it’s just been really frustrating for me. So it’s like 7-10 days, gets to like four weeks. So that’s one thing that’s really frustrating for me. I really want to play, but it’s just been tough.”

The Wolves have been essentially preparing for both scenarios with Pekovic over this past week on the road, and if he’s unable to go look for Kevin Love to start at center and Dante Cunningham to start at power forward like they’ve done in the previous two games on this trip. It’s doable, but it’s not ideal.

“It’s tough—I do think he will be back at some point on this trip, but I really don’t know,” forward Kevin Love said. “That’s up to him, that’s up to the training staff, that’s up to coach. He’s a guy that especially last game would’ve helped us a lot, K-Mart was the same way, Ronny [Turiaf]. I mean, we said it all year the more we have depth the better we’re going to be, but I do think we’re playing pretty good ball without them.”

Pekovic said his ankle isn’t getting worse. It’s just not improving to the point of a certain return. “The pain kind of goes up and down, sometimes it’s really down and sometimes it comes back up,” Pekovic said. “So you know, sometimes I’ve got a few good days and then I feel better.”

Quick Hits:

  • Love was at dinner on Monday night in the Phoenix area with President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders and the Wolves’ training staff. It happened to be the same restaurant that the Fox Sports North crew, the Timberwolves public relations staff and myself were at. The Wolves’ PR group sent out this tweet:

    That prompted Love to talk about it at shootaround today.

    “There’s going to be a big French Dip story coming out now,” Love said.

  • For two straight games, the Wolves have played a team that the 1990s Bulls beat in an NBA Finals series during their first three-peat. On Sunday it was the Portland Trail Blazers, and tonight it is the Phoenix Suns. Both teams had blown-up images in their back tunnel of those 1992 and 1993 Finals featuring Jordan with Clyde Drexler and Jordan with Charles Barkley. It’s a nice trip down memory lane.

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.