Thaddeus Young collided with Jimmy Butler moments before halftime in the 106-105 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night at Target Center. He was diagnosed with a neck strain and did not return.
It was a scary sight for the Wolves who have seen seasons derailed by injuries in the past.
Young, however, was back at practice Monday afternoon after passing the necessary tests over the weekend.
“I don’t even want to talk about that play,” Young said when asked to rehash the injury to a host of reporters. “I want to put it behind me and focus on the next game and the long road trip we have coming up.”
Wolves coach Flip Saunders said the team practiced hard Monday afternoon and said Young was 100 percent.
“He practiced the whole day,” Saunders said while making light of the situation. “I told him he’s never going to be an MMA fighter. He went down like a Redwood [Tree] out in California. … His only regret was that he wasn’t in late to help us win the game.”
Young said trainers tried to limit his activity at practice to no avail.
“I just went out and told them I was fine and ready to get back into the full swing of things,” Young said.
Minnesota needs Young to get back in the full swing of things as it embarks on its longest road trip of the season. Young has been arguably the best player on the Wolves so far as he opened the season with 26 points in a close loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and a team-high 19 points in a win over the Detroit Pistons a day later.
Wolves veteran Kevin Martin, who saw what injuries did to the squad last season, said he was glad to see Young back.
“It’s always scary when somebody goes down like he did,” Martin said. “He had a great practice and I’m sure he’ll be ready by Wednesday.”
A LONG ROAD AHEAD
Minnesota won’t play another game at Target Center until Nov. 19 and the 18 days between true home games is the longest stretch in franchise history.
That said Saunders is looking at the positives of the road trip.
“We’re excited,” he said. “It’s a good challenge for us. … If we go out and play how we’ve played through these first three games, and play hard, we’re going to give ourselves a chance. That’s all we can ask to do. I’m excited about seeing how we react to that.”
It gives the team a chance to grow on the court and affords the group a chance to grow off of the court, too.
Martin hinted at the fact that the latter might actually be more important for a young team at this point in the season.
“It’s going to be great for us,” Martin said. “It’s the first time we’re actually going to be out on the road for an extended period. These road trips a lot of times don’t come until January or February. We have one right away and it’s a time where we can all come together.”
Young said it will also offer a good learning experience for the rookies on the team.
“It’s going to be a very, very tiring situation, especially if guys are playing 25-30 minutes a game,” he said. “It’s one of those things where we might have three games in four nights and some night get into the hotel room late and have to wake up early for shootaround. These guys will definitely get the NBA feel.”
Wolves rookie Zach LaVine joked last week that he doesn’t even know how to pack for a road trip of this length.
“I hope they don’t ever have to pack like this again,” Saunders said. “I just told them to make sure they bring enough underwear.”
‘YOU LIVE AND LEARN’
Martin drilled a clutch three-pointer to put the Wolves ahead 102-100 late in the game against the Bulls on Saturday night, and as he trotted back on defense, Martin paid homage to Sam Cassell.
That move, while it energized the Target Center crowd, also cost Martin 15 thousand dollars in the eyes of the NBA.
“It was in the moment,” Martin said. “They stopped that a while ago so I shouldn’t have done it.”
Saunders, who coached Cassell, said he cringes when he sees that move.
“I told [Martin] … that Sam Cassell did that against Sacramento in Game 7 and when he did that he had an evulsion fracture in his hip and he didn’t play in the next series against the Lakers. So from that perspective I’ve always been someone against that type of thing not knowing what’s going to happen.”
It’s safe to say Martin probably won’t be paying homage anymore this season.
“I was supposed go shopping today and I’m not going shopping now,” Martin joked. “You live and learn.”