Layman’s long-term injury near end, back at Wolves practice
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jake Layman was finally cleared Thursday to return to practice, with his absence at 39 straight games and counting because of a sprained left toe.
Star center Karl-Anthony Towns, however, does not have that clearance. Nor has there been clarity yet revealed by the Timberwolves about how long his sprained left wrist will keep him out. The Timberwolves will play Friday against Boston without Towns, who missed the last game before the All-Star break on Feb. 12. Coach Ryan Saunders has said only that Towns will miss multiple games.
“We’re obviously still looking, getting opinions that are out there,” Saunders said Thursday. “You want to make the best decisions possible for himself, and also for the organization.”
Towns missed 15 games earlier this season with a left knee injury. His latest setback came in the aftermath of the whirlwind week leading up the trade deadline that landed guard D’Angelo Russell, a good friend of Towns. The Russell-Towns pairing reenergized a downtrodden fan base, but the duo has been on the court together for only one game.
Layman, who is in his first season with Minnesota, was hurt Nov. 18 at Utah. The Timberwolves said Layman will be reevaluated in one week, meaning he’ll sit out at least four more games. He sounded optimistic about being ready to play after that.
“The toe feels great. It’s just that conditioning part that I need to get back,” Layman said.
The 6-foot-8 Layman was averaging a career-best 10.5 points over the first 14 games, on a career-high 35.2% shooting from 3-point range.
“I think people saw how big of a difference he was for our group early in the year. His cutting. The way he moved the ball,” Saunders said. “He’s a ball-mover on the perimeter, and that can be contagious for a team. And then he’s better defensively than people give him credit for as well. And then also him getting out in the open court, he’s more athletic than you’d think, too. So the way he finishes around the basket, he would add a lot to our group.”