MINNEAPOLIS – On Wednesday the Twin Cities officially broke the record for the snowiest month of February since these things started being tracked. That meant that the Wolves couldn’t hold a full practice because the entire team was unable to make it back to Minneapolis in time.
Interim coach Ryan Saunders said he gave Karl-Anthony Towns the day off because of how busy his All-Star Weekend in Charlotte was, but there were others that didn’t make it back from the places they spent their time off.
Robert Covington was one of the players that didn’t make it back, but he did post on social media over the break video of his rehabilitation.
“We’re getting closer,” Saunders said. “[Covington] is getting closer. We like the progress but just take it day-by-day still.”
It’s probably unlikely that Covington will play this weekend with the team in New York and Milwaukee, but they Wolves may be getting back another key member of the rotation on Friday night against the Knicks.
Tyus Jones was able to make it to practice on Wednesday. He’s missed the last 13 games with a left ankle sprain. Prior to the All-Star break he was able to do things on the court and was eventually upgraded to doubtful for the game against Houston which he ultimately missed.
“I still feel really good,” Jones said. “I’m not saying I’m for sure playing on Friday, but if [Thursday]’s practice goes well, that would be the goal. We’ll see how tomorrow goes and kind of move on from there.”
Getting Jones back is one step closer to a healthier roster, which leads to some decisions that Saunders will have to make in terms of the on-court lineups.
“I have a framework, unfortunately when you have a framework it doesn’t always work out that way,” Saunders said when asked about potential lineups for a completely healthy team.
It hasn’t worked out that way as of now, as Saunders hasn’t coached a single game with his ideal starting five, but the hope is that changes sooner than later.
Towns wasn’t the only player that participated in the festivities in Charlotte at All-Star Weekend as rookie Josh Okogie took part in the Rising Stars Challenge as part of Team World. He made noise as he had one of the highlights of the night with a ferocious put-back dunk.
JOSH OKOGIE.. GET UP YOUNG FELLA! 😳
— NBA (@NBA) February 16, 2019
Okogie did stick around for the festivities the day after his game, watching the dunk contest, 3-point shootout, and skills challenge.
“It was cool,” Okogie said. “Hami [Diallo] was actually my teammate at USA Basketball. It was actually good to see him win it. It’s crazy because I remember one play we were scrimmaging and somebody missed a shot. He tried to put it back but he missed, but he put his arm, his elbow in the rim on a put-back miss. I thought that was insane. So, to see him jump over Shaq and do it? That was even more insane.”
Okogie is the type of player that could participate in the dunk contest one day. He’s certainly explosive enough and has an ideal body type to do it.
“Yeah, I’d be interested,” Okogie said. “I was gonna do it this year, but my legs didn’t agree with me. I listened to my legs.”
Time to reset
There’s no doubting that the break came at a good time for the Wolves on a physical front as it allowed some of the dinged-up guys the opportunity to regain health. It also gave the team an opportunity to relax mentally and get away from basketball for a few days. A few days like that can certainly be beneficial to everyone involved.
“I think breaks are always that way, you can probably ask every other coach in this league and every other player,” Saunders said about the break coming at a good time for them mentally. “The season gets long. Everybody goes through something different. Every team has something going on, we just might not all know about it. Therefore, the break, from one, each other, but also just to re-center yourself and really put forth ‘what can you do better?’ Really kind of self-examine as well. That can really help everybody.”
Every team can benefit from this, as Saunders said, and it will be interesting to see how a re-energized, healthy team looks down the stretch of this season.