MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves got a bit of good news Thursday when doctors told All-Star Kevin Love that he wouldn't need surgery on his broken right hand.
The bad news is they still have to figure out a way to replace his 26 points and 13 rebounds a game for the next six to eight weeks.
Love said in a statement Thursday that he broke his right hand while doing knuckle push-ups the day before in a pre-practice workout. The injury means the Wolves will be without their two best players — point guard Ricky Rubio isn't expected back until mid-December at the earliest because of a torn ACL in his left knee — for the first month of the regular season, and possibly longer.
"Although I'm disappointed that this injury happened, I will work extremely hard to stay in shape and return to the court as quickly as possible," Love said.
The situation is similar to what Wolves coach Rick Adelman had to deal with in Houston, when he lost stars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming for extended stretches.
"I was just shocked," Adelman said when he was told of Love's injury. "I couldn't believe it. Here we're trying to get ready and then we have something like this happen. I learned a long time ago. I've had so many injuries to good players, I've started to think maybe it's me."
Adelman chuckled just a bit after uttering those words, but figuring out how to move on without his leading scorer and rebounder and without getting buried isn't going to be easy.
His options, however, are many. Starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko can move to the power forward against some teams, with Dante Cunningham, Lou Amundson and Derrick Williams also available to fill in.
If anyone thought it was Williams' spot by default, Adelman shot that down Thursday.
"Why would people assume that?" Adelman asked. "He's certainly one of the guys that has to play there, but it's going to be him, Dante, Lou, Andrei may play some there. That's what we're going to have to find out the next three games and the practices, what's the best way to go."
Williams spent most of the summer reshaping his body and working on his ball-handling so he could earn more minutes at small forward with Love getting the bulk of the time at power forward. But he has done some of his best work at power forward, including a 22-point, 10-rebound performance against the Lakers on March 9 when Love couldn't play because of back spasms.