On Thursday, the Timberwolves announced forward Jake Layman, who has missed the Wolves’ last 39 games while recovering from a sprained left toe, has been cleared to practice.
“Instead of watching from the sidelines, I’m back out there today full go,” Layman said. “I’m excited.”
Layman has been seen practicing his shot at recent practices, but Thursday was his first full-on practice since his Nov. 18 injury that took place in Utah.
Before Thursday’s practice, Layman said his toe feels “great” but that his conditioning still needs some work, as expected.
“It’s a process to get back to (game shape),” Layman said. “It’s hard to replicate game speed, but practice will be great today."
Wolves head coach Ryan Saunders said the team would take Friday’s game against the Boston Celtics into consideration when determining the intensity of Thursday’s practice but that training camp drills along with 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 would be incorporated.
“We’ll have to see how it responds as we move forward,” Saunders said, in reference to Layman’s toe, “But he’s cleared to practice, and we look forward to having him out there today.”
In the 10 games Layman played in the month of November leading up to his toe injury, he averaged 11.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 35.1% from beyond the arc. He also recorded the best defensive rating (106.2) of any Wolves player who appeared in all of the team’s first 10 games in November. The Wolves were also 8-6 before Layman was sidelined.
“I think people saw how big a difference he was for our group early in the year,” Saunders said. “His cutting, the way he moved the ball on the perimeter, and that can be contagious for a team.”
The Wolves have added eight new players to their roster since the last game Layman played in, but the Wolves forward does not expect his role with the team will change much going forward.
“I was talking to Coach, and it sounds like my role will be pretty similar to what it was before,” Layman said. “Running the floor, playing fast, shoot when I’m open, make plays. It should be pretty similar.”
Saunders did not entertain the idea of sending Layman to play with the Iowa Wolves on a G League assignment while he works on returning to full strength.
“We like where we are having him here,” Saunders said. “He’s been working through everything with our group. His commitment to getting better is incredible. I’m just really glad that he gets to get out there today because he deserves to get a little competition in.”
Layman is expected to be re-evaluated in one week and will continue to be monitored closely by the Wolves’ medical staff.