MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Brandon Roy sat down at his locker on Wednesday night as he prepared to sit out another with a sore right knee. He was asked if he planned on suiting up for the Minnesota Timberwolves in their next game on Friday night.
"Um, I would like to," Roy said before the Wolves took on Charlotte. "That's the goal. I don't want to say yeah or no. But I would like to get out there Friday."
His words may have said yes, but his eyes said something entirely different. Roy missed his third straight game on Wednesday night, and there is no clear answer to when he will return to the court. For a player who is trying to come back from chronic knee issues that forced him to retire before last season, the situation is very much a concern for him and an injury-ravaged Wolves team that could desperately use his scoring in the lineup.
"Since it is my knee, we all know they're not 100 percent," Roy said. "Anytime I have something in that area, it's always a little concerning. I just try not to think about it that much and just try to get better. Coach and the team they all tell me to just keep taking my time. Nobody's putting any extra pressure on me."
Roy is one of a staggering six players currently sidelined for the Wolves. JJ Barea (sprained left foot) and Nikola Pekovic (sprained left ankle) both were out against the Bobcats as well but hope to return fairly soon. Chase Budinger is out three to four months after having surgery on his left knee earlier this week and stars Kevin Love (broken right hand) and Ricky Rubio (torn left ACL) aren't expected to make their season debuts until sometime in December.
The Timberwolves have lost a player to injury in four straight games, giving them nine healthy bodies to play the improved Bobcats on Wednesday night.
"I've just never seen anything like this, game after game after game you lose somebody like that," coach Rick Adelman said.
After getting some injections to treat the bone-on-bone soreness in his knees this summer, Roy felt so good that he started a comeback bid. He worked out for a few teams and signed a two-year deal with Minnesota, which needed a veteran shooting guard who could create his own shot in the fourth quarter. All signs were encouraging in training camp, with Roy reporting no soreness and looking spry in workouts and games.
But he banged knees with Ersan Ilyasova in an exhibition against the Bucks, knocked knees again in practice before the opener and left the game against Indiana on Friday night with more soreness.
"They both have been fine up until that last preseason game. ... It just hasn't quite got to where I would've liked," Roy said. "That's part of a season. You just have to get to a point where, what can you tolerate. I think things will be OK. Hopefully I can get back out there as soon as possible."
Both Adelman and president of basketball operations David Kahn said they expected Roy to have setbacks like this occasionally, and that his performance in training camp and the preseason left them confident he'd be back after a little rest.
"He was doing pretty well until he got his knee bumped in that exhibition game, and that's kind of caused him some problems," Adelman said. "But I always thought there was going to be times like this. But I didn't expect five other guys out."
The Timberwolves have kicked the tires on free agents Josh Howard and Mickael Pietrus, but they only have the veteran minimum to offer and have yet to decide if they want to bring someone in. Kahn said the Wolves were not eligible for an injury exception yet, so they would have to waive a player to make room on the roster. He also said signing a free agent was much more likely than making a trade this early in the season.
The Wolves host Golden State on Friday night before having four days off to let players try to heal.
Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter: http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski