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Injury Analysis: No Love for the T-Wolves

Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio

After a disappointing end to 2012, Love's 2013 hasn't gotten much better. The All-Star forward refractured his right hand in a win over Denver and will miss a yet-to-be determined amount of time. Love initially injured the hand in October when he broke the third and fourth metacarpal bones while performing knuckle pushups. Fortunately for Love and the Timberwolves, the bones did not displace and surgery was not required. Love returned after missing nine games but has struggled with his shot and is currently shooting a career-worst 35 percent from the field.

The latest break is isolated to the third metacarpal and Love is slated to meet with a specialist to determine the next course of action. The team has yet to mention surgery as a possibility but don't be shocked if that idea is floated around. With the bone breaking this shortly after a previous fracture, there may be an issue with the union of the pieces of bone. A pin to stabilize the area would insure a proper union and aid in the healing process but would cost him some extra time. If surgery is not performed than Love could be back in a matter of weeks. For comparison, Carmelo Anthony didn't need surgery after breaking his third metacarpal during the 2008-2009 and missed just 10 games. If Love is forced to go under the knife than he will likely need at least six weeks to recover. The decision may hurt in the short term but could insure the hand doesn't break again and could help Love rediscover his shooting stroke. Keep an eye out for the final decision but prepare to be without Love for the immediate future.

Love's injury slightly overshadows the back spasms that have kept Rubio out of Minnesota's last four games. Rubio missed the start of the season recovering from reconstructive surgery on his left knee to repair tears to his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL). There has been some suggestion that the spasms are related to the young point guard compensating for his still-recovering knee. It's extremely possible for this to occur but remember back spasms are a symptom not an injury. Determining the root of the problem should be the focus and will be key to insuring the back doesn't flare up upon his return, especially if it is linked to the knee. The Timberwolves are anticipating Rubio will be available for Tuesday's game but tread carefully here until it is certain the episode is behind him.

Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol

Things in Lakerland are not exactly relaxed right now and sending Howard for a MRI on his injured right shoulder isn't expected to help settle the tension. Howard suffered a rotator cuff strain in the team's lost to the Clippers and aggravated the injury Sunday against the Nuggets.

Keep in mind Howard is still recovering from offseason back surgery that could be aggravated by this new ailment. The shoulder may not be included in the list of core muscles that surround the trunk and back but these muscles do aid in stabilizing the shoulder girdle. If he attempts to fight through a strained and weakened shoulder it could indirectly irritate his still healing back. The MRI results will offer insight to the extent of the damage and I wouldn't be shocked if he misses a game or two.

Howard's frontcourt mate is banged up as well as Gasol left Sunday's game after catching an inadvertent elbow from Javale McGee. The collision left Gasol bloodied with a laceration on his nose but did not break any bones. He should be fine for Los Angeles' next outing as long as the plantar fasciitis in his right foot and the bilateral knee tendinitis don't flare up.

John Wall

The Wizards could soon get a big addition to their backcourt as Wall is nearing a return from injury. The former number-one overall pick has yet to play this season after developing a stress reaction in his left patella. However he has returned to practice and could see game action within the next week. Washington will likely handle his return to play conservatively, limiting his minutes in his first games back. Once the knee shows no signs of irritation or any associated swelling expect his activity level to return to his career norms. However Wall would be a prime candidate to be shut down early should Washington continue to struggle. It may be months away from occurring but it's worth consideration before you make a play for Wall.

Fast Breaks

Jamal Crawford: A sore left foot has kept Crawford on the bench for LA's previous two games. He isn't expected back for Wednesday's contest against the Mavericks, meaning he could appear in just one game in the next seven days as the Clippers play just twice this week. Owners in weekly leagues should adjust their lineups accordingly.

LeBron James: James is dealing with a couple of bumps and bruises that shouldn't cost him any time. He irritated a right knee contusion before rolling his left ankle in Miami's win over Washington on Sunday. The left ankle has given James problems throughout his 10-year career but don't expect to see him on the sideline. In 10 NBA seasons, LeBron has missed a total of 23 games due to injury.

Nikola Pekovic: As if Minnesota didn't have enough to worry about, Pekovic left Sunday's game with a strained left hip. He is considered day-to-day.

Iman Shumpert: Shumpert is hoping to make his season debut sometime in the next two weeks. He has yet to play after tearing the ACL in his left knee. He will likely be eased back into the rotation but could see more minutes that expected with Raymond Felton out with a fractured finger.

Anderson Varejao: The bruised right knee that has sidelined the league's top rebounder for nine games has improved and Varejao is expected back at practice Tuesday. If he continues to make progress he will play Wednesday against the Hawks.

Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.