D'Angelo Russell will miss the next four-to-six weeks as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery, the team announced. The procedure will remove a loose body in Russell's left knee. The sixth-year guard was averaging 19.3 points per game on 42.6 percent shooting for a Timberwolves team that currently has the worst record in the NBA at 7-20.
To some extent, those struggles are the result of some terrible luck. Russell, who was acquired at the 2020 trade deadline, has played only five games alongside Minnesota co-star Karl-Anthony Towns due to a variety of ailments. Towns recently missed 13 games due to COVID-19, and only returned to the lineup last week. He and Russell are close friends who had previously expressed a strong desire to play with one another.
The Timberwolves are fortunately heavy on guard talent. Ricky Rubio, who has started 10 games this season, will likely take over point guard duties. Shooting guard Malik Beasley is having a career-season by averaging 20.9 points per game on over 40 percent shooting from behind the arc, and No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards has come on strong of late by averaging 18.4 points per game in his past five appearances.
But the core of Minnesota's roster was supposed to be the Towns-Russell duo that has scarcely shared the floor. Now, the Timberwolves are almost certainly going to finish at the bottom of the standings yet again, and due to the Russell trade, they might not even have a first-round pick to show for it. They owe their selection to the Warriors if it lands outside of the top three. They gave that pick up expecting to compete for a playoff spot without Russell. Now, that ship appears to have sailed.