Capitals

Rubio cleared to start practicing with Wolves

Rubio cleared to start practicing with Wolves

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Ricky Rubio is one major step closer to returning to the court for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rubio got the green light from doctors on Wednesday for full-contact practices, the last major hurdle he needed to clear in his recovery from torn ligaments in his left knee.

The team still has not set a timetable for Rubio's first game action, but just the thought of getting the dynamic point guard back in uniform is a big lift to a team that has been beset by numerous injuries early this season.

``Life is good!'' Rubio tweeted on Wednesday evening.

His slick passing, sunny attitude and overlooked defense on the perimeter energized the Timberwolves last season, helping a long-suffering franchise climb into the playoff picture in his first year in the United States after coming over from Spain. But he tore his ACL late in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 9, and the Wolves' season quickly unraveled after that.

``We just have to have him practice for the next couple of weeks and see how he responds,'' coach Rick Adelman said. ``We've missed him a lot. Once we lost him we saw the impact he had on our group because of his leadership - and not just at the offensive end. He defended people better than most point guards.''

Even with Rubio expected to be out until mid-December, this season started with hopes of the team's first playoff appearance since 2004. Then All-Star Kevin Love broke his right hand in the preseason, Chase Budinger tore the meniscus in his left knee early in the regular season and Brandon Roy's knees continued to give him problems. Love made his season debut just last week, but the Wolves lost the first three games in which he played while they got acclimated to having him back on the court.

The Wolves were without forward Andrei Kirilenko against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday because of back spasms.

Love had 23 points and 24 rebounds in a win over Sacramento on Tuesday night to snap a five-game skid, and now the Wolves receive word that Rubio's return is just around the corner.

``He'll be eased in,'' Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said in remarks on the team's website. ``The likelihood is he'll play his first game around 16-18 minutes and then from there the medical staff and Ricky will determine on a game-by-game basis what to do next.''

Rubio started participating in walk-through portions of practice early last week and coach Rick Adelman said it was clear in those situations that he has not lost his aptitude for the offense and what will be asked of him when he returns.

``Anybody who's going through an injury like that is going to have his ups and downs, and I was aware of that,'' Adelman said. ``So we don't want him to push himself. This is for the long haul.''

Just when that first game comes is still to be decided. The Wolves played the Clippers in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, meaning a practice back home on Thursday was highly unlikely before they host Milwaukee on Friday. Minnesota has a three-day break between games after the Bucks come to town, so Rubio likely will get his first contact work in practice sometime this weekend.

They have a back-to-back at Philadelphia and Boston next week on Dec. 4 and 5 before another home game against Cleveland on Dec. 7.

The Timberwolves have said all along that they are going to be cautious with Rubio's recovery and not rush him back. He is too important to the franchise's future to risk further injury by running him out there too soon. At the same time, it's clear the Wolves desperately need their playmaker to get the offense flowing more smoothly and to tighten up some porous perimeter defense that has led to some huge nights from opposing backcourts in the last week.

With Budinger out for three to four months, Adelman has been forced to use a small backcourt of Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea for large stretches of games, which puts the team in a bind defensively against bigger guards. Rookie Alexey Shved has been a pleasant surprise after coming over from Russia, but the Wolves are still sorely missing Rubio's size and feel for the game.

And while Rubio no doubt will immediately make the Timberwolves better, Adelman cautioned last week that fans have to be patient while he works his way back.

``We have to be careful about the expectations,'' he said. ``He had a serious injury. You want him on the court and everything but you're going to have to judge how quickly. ... He's going to have his ups and downs. But he's just the type of young man that he's going to get through it. He's just going to have to have the type of patience himself.''

---

Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter:http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

Quick Links

Capitals re-sign forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract

Capitals re-sign forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract

WASHINGTON — The Capitals bolstered their forward depth and its penalty kill by re-signing two-time Stanley Cup champion Carl Hagelin before he hit unrestricted free agency next month. 

Washington has officially re-signed forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract extension, a move that goes a long way toward re-establishing a third line that had some openings entering the offseason. 

Hagelin, 30, was a pending unrestricted free agent. Washington acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 21 just four days before the NHL trade deadline. Hagelin played primarily on the third line – although injuries in the Stanley Cup playoffs pushed him onto the second line. 

https://twitter.com/Capitals/status/1140355394856017926

Hagelin had three goals and 11 assists in 20 regular-season games with the Capitals and became an instant staple on the penalty kill. His 47 minutes, six seconds on the PK in those 20 games were enough to rank sixth among all forwards on the team.

Traded twice last season, Hagelin had a total of five goals and 14 assists with the Capitals, Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins in 58 games. He had a sprained knee (medial collateral ligament) with Los Angeles that kept him out for 20 games.  

"[Hagelin] was a good fit,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said on April 26. “I thought he fit seamlessly from day one. Really liked him on the third line, the way we used him, we bumped him up obviously with the [T.J.] Oshie injury. Our PK got a lot better. Fits in well with his teammates. It's a really good fit for us, yes." 

The Penguins traded Hagelin to the Kings on Nov. 14. He was a key part of Pittsburgh’s back-to-back Stanley Cup winners in 2016 and 2017, which came at the expense of Washington in the playoffs each time. 

This was the last year of a four-year, $16 million deal that Hagelin signed with the Anaheim Ducks in 2015. He was always viewed as a likely trade chip for Los Angeles, which finished in last place in the Pacific Division and eventually flipped him to the Capitals. 

Even after the disappointing first-round Stanley Cup playoff loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, Hagelin said he was open to re-signing with the Capitals before he hit unrestricted free agency on July 1. His signing follows the trade of defenseman Matt Niskanen on Friday. The NHL Draft is this coming weekend in Vancouver with more moves expected.   

“I liked the fact that I got a good look from the coaches,” Hagelin said on April 26 of his time with the Capitals. “I got to play with good players, I got to play in key situations. I felt comfortable here.”

MORE CAPITALS NEWS

 

Quick Links

Orioles welcome home military service member with surprise first pitch

Orioles welcome home military service member with surprise first pitch

The Orioles helped make one family's Father's Day a day that they will never forget. 

Specialist Addam Bostwick from Fort George G. Meade United States Army installation surprised his father, former Marine Stephen Bostwick, with a special ceremonial first pitch Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards.

Stephen, who is a four-year veteran of the US Marine Corps, was expecting an Orioles player to catch the first pitch, was shocked to see Addam, who had been deployed in Afghanistan for four months, surprised his father.

MORE ORIOLES NEWS: