MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Love returned from the London Olympics determined to do what every veteran U.S. teammate of his had already done — lead his team to the playoffs.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will likely have to begin the first month of that pursuit without him.
The two-time All-Star broke his right hand in a morning workout Wednesday and will miss six to eight weeks.
Love broke the third and fourth metacarpals on his shooting hand in a workout before practice. It's a crushing blow to the Timberwolves, who already will be without star point guard Ricky Rubio for what is expected to be at least the first six weeks of the regular season while he recovers from a torn ACL in his left knee.
The Timberwolves open the regular season at home against Sacramento on Nov. 2.
Team owner Glen Taylor, speaking to reporters at halftime of the WNBA finals game, acknowledged his initial "why us?" feeling when he first heard the news in the morning. But he tried to keep a positive attitude about the situation, expressing hope that Love will only miss a month of the regular season and confidence that Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham will take advantage of the extra playing time to help the Wolves for the future.
"I think all of our fans anticipated this season with great enthusiasm. We knew we were going to have to wait for Ricky, and now we have two guys to wait for," Taylor said, adding: "But again, I'm going to be positive about it and say we've got some young guys and let's see them step up."
All the work David Kahn and the rest of the front office did to add veteran depth this summer is about to be tested more than they ever could have imagined.
Love averaged 26 points and 13.3 rebounds last season, leading the team in both categories and emerging as the best power forward in the game. He signed a four-year contract in January worth more than $60 million, then played a key role in the United States' march to the gold medal in London.
As the only NBA veteran on Team USA who had yet to appear in the playoffs, Love came back brimming with confidence that this was the year the Wolves would break through for the first time since 2004. That already was going to be a challenge in the powerful Western Conference without Rubio, the dynamic point guard who quickly became the glue that held this young team together before injuring his knee in a game against the Lakers on March 9.
But with veteran additions Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, Greg Stiemsma and Cunningham, Love was convinced they would be able to weather playing without Rubio better than last season, when they lost 20 of their last 25 games after he went down.
"We have a great training camp and we can get off to a good start and guys stay healthy, there's really no telling what we can do," Love said just before training camp opened. "I know a lot of teams in the Western Conference have loaded up, but I still feel we can knock those teams off and have a really good year."
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