The 6-foot-4 point guard has not played since spraining his his left ankle during a Nov. 7 game against the Orlando Magic. The Timberwolves initially announced that Rubio was out indefinitely. Over five games this season, Rubio averaged 9.4 points, 10.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game while posting a 15.66 player efficiency rating.
In November, Minnesota signed Rubio to a four-year contract extension reportedly worth $55 million.
Saunders reportedly indicated that shooting guard Kevin Martin, who underwent surgery to repair a wrist fracture, will not return in the near future. Over nine games, Martin led the team with 20.4 points per game. Meanwhile, big men Nikola Pekovic and Ronny Turiaf reportedly are expected to make quicker returns than both Rubio and Martin.
The Timberwolves have gone 2-10 in Rubio's absence and have the worst record (4-13) in the Western Conference. On Wednesday, Minnesota fell to the previously winless Philadelphia 76ers. The Timberwolves host the Houston Rockets (14-4) on Friday.