Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/15/12
MINNEAPOLIS It's been 280 days, 16 wins, 25 losses, three trades, seven signings and too many injuries even to count. It's been worse than the Timberwolves expected, and then better, and now, finally, Ricky Rubio is back. The team has announced that the point guard, who has not played since a March 9 loss to the Lakers in which he tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee, will return to the court for Saturday's game against the Dallas Mavericks. Rubio was cleared to practice on Nov. 28, and he has ramped up his activity levels since then, remaining in Minneapolis on Friday while the team traveled to New Orleans in order to work out and complete the evaluations of his knee. "I'm excited to get back on the floor with my teammates and play in front of the best fans in the NBA at Target Center," Rubio said in a statement. "After a long recovery, this is the first step in me getting back on the court and helping my teammates. Thank you to the fans for their support over the last nine months." Coach Rick Adelman has been hesitant to nail down a precise minutes limit for Rubio. He said Thursday that a limit was discussed when Rubio was initially cleared, but he hasn't given a number, and both he and Rubio acknowledged the inherent difficulty of keeping the point guard on the bench once he's gotten his first taste of a game. More information as to how much Rubio will be used and whether he will start will be available when Adelman speaks pregame. By all accounts, the rehab process went smoothly and without any major setbacks, and the main reason Rubio's debut comes later than many may have initially expected was due to scheduling. And even with his return coming when it is on the second game of a back-to-back, with another such stretch looming Monday and Tuesday some careful monitoring will be necessary. The team's schedule eases next week; after playing Oklahoma City on Thursday, its sixth game in nine days, it enters a stretch in which it has just three games in 12 days. Before his injury last season, Rubio averaged 10.6 points, 8.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds. This season, the team's two primary point guards, Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea, have averaged 10.9 points 4.8 assists and 2.9 rebounds combined. With Rubio's minutes likely limited, he'll split time with Barea and Ridnour, and with injuries to shooting guards Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger and Malcolm Lee, Rubio could also spend time in a two-point guard lineup, as he did last year, though this year's would be necessitated by injury, not choice. Follow Joan Niesen on Twitter.
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