MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Timberwolves fans knew the news was bad when the team announced March 10 that Ricky Rubio had a torn ACL in his left knee. Then it was revealed this week that Rubio also had a torn lateral collateral ligament in that knee, and suddenly many worried that it was even worse than it first looked.
After consulting with doctors and athletic trainers over the past two days, the Timberwolves do not expect the torn LCL to significantly affect his timeline for a return to the team. The Spanish point guard is still expected to return in six to nine months, which leaves open the possibility that he could be ready for the start of next season in November, which is about 7½ months away.
The LCL is considered to be the least important of the four major ligaments in the knee. Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson tore his in 2007 and only missed two games.
The Wolves will not be rushing Rubio back during this important rehabilitation, but they also fully expect him to return to the player who energized this franchise with his unselfish play and boyish enthusiasm.
Along with coach Rick Adelman and Kevin Love, Rubio was one of the three biggest reasons the Wolves were able to rebound from 32 victories over the previous two seasons to creep into the playoff picture in the Western Conference early in March.
But Rubio injured his knee late in a game against the Lakers on March 9, and the Wolves have lost five of the seven games since he went down heading into Friday night's game at Oklahoma City.
Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said before the surgery that he was optimistic Rubio would be ready by the time next season opens and 100 percent confident that he would be back "better than ever" after going through the rehab process.
Rubio has yet to address the media since the surgery, but has been tweeting optimistically ever since he was injured.
"Surgery went well," Rubio tweeted on Thursday. "Now it's time to rehab and do my work. Thank you all of u for ur support."