Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love met with doctors in the Twin Cities on Monday to evaluate his right hand, which is broken for the second time this season.
Love also will consult with a hand specialist in New York this week before determining a course of action, president of basketball operations David Kahn said. There is no timetable for his return, but the All-Star forward and Olympic gold medallist is expected to be sidelined for an extended period.
Kahn is ramping up conversations with other teams to see if there might be a trade to be made to supplement an injury-plagued team that remains hopeful about making the playoffs this season.
"I certainly think he'll be out for a number of weeks," Kahn said after practice on Monday. "But because we don't have anything else definitive yet, I can't say precisely what that means. But a number of weeks is a number of weeks, and yes it's important for us to try to figure out if there's something we can do to help alleviate his loss."
Love missed the first three weeks of the season after breaking his hand during the preseason. He didn't need surgery for that injury, and it's still unknown if he will need it this time around.
"We know how to play without him, but we will need him," point guard Ricky Rubio said. "He's an All-Star. He does a lot of things for our team. Now some players have to step up and show why they are here in the NBA."
Love surprised many by returning ahead of schedule on Nov. 21, but it's been clear over the last month that the hand was still bothering him. The defending 3-point shootout champion is shooting just 35 per cent from the field and 21.7 per cent on 3s.
He broke the hand again while jockeying for position under the basket against Denver last week. He's been unavailable for comment since the injury.
"He's disappointed," Kahn said. "I think that so much has happened to him this year that, probably like all of us, my sense is he too is almost disbelieving. It almost seems like somebody made this stuff up."
Injuries piling up
The timing of Love's injury makes it difficult for the Wolves to make any significant move to bolster the roster. The trade deadline is still more than a month away, which is problematic for the Wolves in a league where executives typically like to wait until the last minute to make a big deal.
"We're talking to a number of teams about possibilities," Kahn said. "But it's very difficult to make trades, especially significant trades, in the month of January. … Typically the league is a deadline-driven league and it tends to do trades as we get close to the deadline."
The Wolves don't just need help in the frontcourt. Knee injuries to Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger, Malcolm Lee and Josh Howard have decimated the depth at shooting guard and small forward as well, and they are in desperate need of a reliable 3-point shooter to help spread the floor.
In a rare bit of good news on the injury front, Rubio is expected to play Tuesday against Atlanta after missing four games with back spasms. He has played in five games this season since he returned from a torn ACL in his left knee. He's also dealt with a sore groin since he came back, which was expected as he tries to get back into full game action after missing nine months with his knee injury.
"All we can do is move forward," Rubio said. "There's things that you can't control and things you have to deal with. I'm not going to stop because I had pain at some point and I have to do extra work again. I'm going to do it and I'm going to try to be as ready as I can when the games come."