Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 3/24/13
MINNEAPOLIS There's a reddish scar snaking down the middle of Kevin Love's right hand. You see it a bit more, now that the swelling has gone down, now that the hand looks a bit more like a hand and less like an overfilled, lumpy balloon. It's been almost 10 weeks since Love's Jan. 15 surgery and the most conservative estimates of his return date are soon arriving, but the Timberwolves power forward has still yet to suit up. Soon, he hopes, that will change. Love will have a CT scan on his hand later this week -- he does not yet know the exact date -- and will send the scan to his surgeon in New York. Like two weeks ago, when he traveled to New York for an in-person visit, Love hopes this will be the final consultation before he's cleared to participate in full-contact practices. When Love was cleared to return from his first hand injury this season, he surprised everyone and played that night, on Nov. 21. This time around, though, he says he'd want to get in a few practices beforehand, which with the team's upcoming schedule might just be a handful of one-on-one or two-on-two full-contact workouts. Regardless, even if everything goes perfectly to plan, it's hard to imagine Love returning before the weekend. If he were to come back in time, say, for the team's April 1 game against Boston, that would leave 10 games remaining in Minnesota's season. It may seem paltry and insignificant amount, especially for a team that left its playoff hopes behind in early February, but it's Love's prerogative to return, and if he's cleared when he thinks he'll be, to return remains the plan. This time around, though, the return will look drastically different. When Love made his season debut in November, he felt that he needed to come back and immediately lead a team to the playoffs, despite its injuries and his own need to ease back into the game. He never felt as good before that comeback, he said, both mentally and physically, and he averaged 18.3 points on 35.2 percent shooting, his lowest scoring total since 2010 and the lowest field goal percentage of his career. Now, though, the pressure is off. "It was a combination of a lot of things: not knowing where my hand was going to be, and having to lead the team right when I got back, (staying) in shape," Love said of his November return. "Just so many things added on to that. . . . But right now I'm just looking forward to coming back and easing my way into playing, playing hard, playing aggressive and just being myself." There's still a fair amount of scar tissue built up near the third phalange in Love's hand, and so things aren't quite back to normal. That'll likely be there for some time, though, and Love said that until it goes away, he'll remain at 80 or 90 percent strength, where he says he stands now. Still, he feels that he's in a much better place this time around, and his confidence seems to be intact. "I'm shooting the hell out of it," Love said. "I'm shooting a lot better. It's back to how it used to feel." Asked whether he was ever shooting the hell out of it in November or December, the answer was a resounding no. "I was a little nervous, that first time around, because I kept waiting (for the hand to feel better)," Love said. "Some days would be better than others. But now it's far more consistent. It feels great shooting the ball." And as for this season, which from many a perspective might seem lost, for these Timberwolves and Love, there are still a few things to play for. There's coach Rick Adelman's 1,000th career win, for one (he's at 995 before Sunday's game), along with a desire, however irrationally, to see the team Adelman and president of basketball operations David Kahn built play at something close to full strength. So maybe Love's return -- if and when it happens -- will do its part toward either or both of those goals. But no matter what, this season will have taught the 24-year-old a lesson or two, however painful, and now it's time to move on. "Injuries happen," Love said. "It's been tough. But just want to bounce back from them. This being my fifth year in the league, I hope to play 10 years plus after this year. . . . Hopefully this is one of those years where you can scratch it and move forward from there." Follow Joan Niesen on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Florida's Chiozza sends Wisconsin home on incredible buzzer-beater

LaVar Ball gets Crying Jordan, meme treatment after UCLA loss

Celtics upset Suns tried to pad Devin Booker’s stats

Five teams that may be interested in Blake Griffin this summer

Report: Tony Romo ‘believes it’s Texans or retirement’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Clay Matthews Sr. passes away at 88

WWE’s Kane is inching toward running for mayor in Tennessee

Jung Ho Kang denied visa for DUI, may miss 2017 MLB season

Jets not ready to say Josh McCown will be starter

Sens owner on Sidney Crosby: He’s 'a whiner' and should be suspended for Methot slash

Report: Griffin could be growing more open to leaving Clippers

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Breaking down the Naismith Award race

Box Score 3/24: Waiting on West Virginia

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

With Team USA's victory, World Baseball Classic (finally) lived up to its potential

The NFL distraction playbook

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Box Score 3/23: Team USA wins their first WBC title

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Breaking down the Naismith Award race

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

The NFL distraction playbook

With Team USA's victory the WBC (finally) lived up to its potential

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker