By Ben Golliver
The Timberwolves announced Wednesday that guard Ricky Rubio, who tore the ACL in his left knee back in March, has been cleared for full-contact practices. Rubio received his full medical clearance after meeting with Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo.
"Life is good," Rubio tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.
Rubio accompanied the Timberwolves on a recent road trip, going through a pre-game conditioning program and shooting regimen. The Star-Tribune reported Saturday that the Spanish point guard was "getting closer" to a return but that Timberwolves president David Kahn refused to provide a timetable.
“It’s an uplifting thing for everybody—management and players and of course the fans," Kahn said on Wednesday, according to Timberwolves.com.
Rubio, 22, was the No. 5 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Known for his flashy play-making skills and teen prodigy background, Rubio chose to continue playing professionally in Spain until the 2011-12 season, when he arrived in the NBA as a serious Rookie of the Year candidate. He averaged 10.6 points, 8.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 steals in 34.2 minutes per game before suffering the knee injury during a Mar. 9 game against the Lakers at the Target Center.
Rubio was injured while attempting to defend Lakers guard Kobe Bryant on the perimeter. He underwent surgery on March 21 after the injury and sat out the remainder of the 2011-12 season. Minnesota was 21-20 with Rubio in the lineup last season and just 5-20 without him. He also missed the 2012 London Olympics, where he was expected to represent Spain. The Timberwolves have been struck by a rash of injuries this season. Guard Brandon Roy and forward Chase Budinger have also undergone knee surgeries and All-Star forward Kevin Love missed the first few weeks of the season after breaking bones in his hand, although he returned to the court on Nov. 21, much earlier than anticipated. J.J. Barea and Nikola Pekovic have also dealt with minor injuries.