KAT Had “Major Setback” In January, But Return “Imminent”

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns has had a lengthy recovery from a Grade 3 calf strain that has kept him on the sidelines since November 28. However, he’s optimistic about being cleared to return soon, as he told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

I feel good there is a day (coming),” Towns said. “There’s a time. I’ve been in the darkness of the tunnel and trying to figure out where I’m going. It’s good to know that there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.”

According to Krawczynski, Towns said he had a “major setback” in late January, which essentially restarted the entire rehab process. The 27-year-old declined to go into detail about the setback, but he was unable to sit on the team’s bench during that time because he had to keep his leg elevated.

I was standing up for 20 minutes, and my leg was done,” he said. “That was my first time trying it. I was thinking I could do it, and there was no way.”

As Krawczynski writes, this has been Towns’ longest absence of his career, and his first time dealing with a soft tissue injury, which can be tricky in the best of times. There’s also a risk of further injury to a lower extremity, like tearing the Achilles tendon or the ACL, if an athlete returns before the calf is fully healed. Town said his calf was “95 percent torn off,” making it even more of a risk.

That was a very real possibility of happening if I went back on the court,” Towns said. “It was one of those things we were all worried about. As a competitor I was like, ‘Ah f— it, I’ll play. I can do it. I’ll figure it out.’ There was just no way with what I had that I could even attempt to do that.”

Towns told Krawczynski he wishes that he and the team had been more transparent about the injury, as fans have been understandably frustrated by how long he’s been out. However, his commitment to playing shouldn’t be questioned and he’s nearing his return, according to president of basketball operations Tim Connelly.

We’re just really proud of how he’s approached rehab, and we’re extremely excited that his return is imminent,” Connelly said.

Here are a few more injury notes on the Wolves, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune:

  • Head coach Chris Finch provided an update on Anthony Edwards, who has been unable to work out or practice after spraining his ankle on Friday. “For sure there’s some relief,” Finch said when asked about the injury not being severe. “But you know Ant. Ant always wants to play. Never thinks he’s hurt. So, hopefully it is feeling better, which he says it is. In terms of pain tolerance, range of movement, stability, all those things, I think we’re still trying to figure out where that really is with him.”
  • Finch also spoke briefly about Towns, Hine adds. “Feels really, really close,” Finch said of Towns’ potential return. “That’s all I can tell you. He’s looking good.” The Wolves have dropped five of six games and are barely clinging to a play-in spot, so the returns of Edwards and Towns could play a major factor in whether or not they’re able to make the postseason.
  • As Hine writes, backup guard Jaylen Nowell was able to return to the lineup for Monday’s game in New York. The impending free agent had been out for the previous 10 games with left knee tendinopathy, missing nearly a month of action.
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