MINNEAPOLIS - After several days of being vague about the health status of guard D'Angelo Russell, the Minnesota Timberwolves announced on Tuesday he will have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and will be out four to six weeks.
Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders confirmed at shoot-around on Tuesday that Russell will not be available against the L.A. Lakers. It will be the fourth straight game Russell has missed, and the team had called his ailment "left leg soreness." Russell last played 5 minutes, 35 seconds in a road loss to the Dallas Mavericks and scored six points before leaving the game. He did not return, and has not played since.
"We’re just continuing to gather information on see where it goes from there. He won’t be available tonight," Saunders told reporters Tuesday morning.
Timberwolves officials announced Tuesday night Russell will have surgery on Wednesday to remove a loose body from his left knee. Russell, brought to the Timberwolves nearly a year ago in a blockbuster trade by Gersson Rosas, has played in 20 games this season.
The Wolves improved to 7-20 after a 116-112 win at the Toronto Raptors Sunday night. In 20 games, Russell is averaging 19.3 points, 5.1 assists and shooting 42.6 percent from the field, including 39.9 percent from the perimeter.
The problem? Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns have sparingly played together due to either injuries or COVID-19 issues within the Timberwolves. Russell is also under contract for $28.6 million this season. Sitting out games due to the vague nature of "left leg soreness" leaves more questions than answers, and has die-hard fans frustrated that the team’s top players are missing games for a variety of reasons.
Saunders was asked Tuesday if Russell’s absence looks "shady" from the outside.
"I don’t know if shady is the word. He’s been playing heavy minutes. Ankle, knee, you get a sore left leg. As opposed to just pinpointing one, he’s had a lot of wear on himself. That’s the information I have right now," Saunders said.
Russell has played more than 30 minutes in 13 of his 20 games this year. It’s something to monitor moving forward, now that Towns is back in the mix. The reality for the Wolves is that they’re still last in the Western Conference in what appears to be another lost season.