MINNEAPOLIS -- Shabazz Napier doesn’t remember if it was Jordan Bell or Keita Bates-Diop, but someone on the Minnesota Timberwolves’ roster got sick in November and introduced illness into the Timberwolves’ locker room.
And it hasn’t left since.
“I feel like it’s been with us for three months,” Napier said. “It needs to go home. Someone let it move in.”
Andrew Wiggins, Jarrett Culver, Treveon Graham and Keita Bates-Diop have missed games because of “flu-like symptoms” this winter, and Karl-Anthony Towns is currently battling a bug. Illnesses happen, but it’s rare to see a team be this affected for this long.
“We’re into analytics, but I don’t have the analytics on that,” Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders joked. “From my experience, this is as long (time period of team illness) as I’ve known. But we were looking around the locker room after the game as coaches and reading some of the other health reports, there’s a number of teams that have gone through the flu bug, too. It’s one of those things that we’re dealing with. You remind everybody to wash your hands.”
Some players take extra measures. Gorgui Dieng gets in daily sauna sessions, drinks hot water with lemon juice and takes cloves during the winter. Noah Vonleh said he’s just been blessed with a strong immune system.
“I think I’m just fighting everything off the best I could,” Vonleh said.
Jake Layman was doing some light individual work off to the side before the start of Tuesday’s practice. It’s a sign of progress for the wing, who has been out since mid-November with an injury that essentially equates to turf toe.
Saunders counts the fact that Layman is out of a walking boot and back on the floor as a positive.
“Obviously, the injury he has, it’s a painful one,” Saunders said.
It’s difficult for fans to believe someone can miss an extended period of time such as this with a “sprained toe,” but football players miss weeks at a time with turf toe, and basketball requires far more stopping and starting.
“In basketball, when you’re playing on a hard surface and there’s so much stopping and going, a sprained toe may not sound like it’s a painful injury, but that’s something that you need to really be cautious with,” Saunders said. “That’s what we do.”
Saunders pointed to the caution Minnesota has taken with both Layman and Towns during their recovery processes.
“They’re doing everything they can to get back,” the coach said. “We just know how important they are to us moving forward that we want to make sure to take the right steps with them.”
Pacers banged up
Indiana could be without star forward Domantas Sabonis ahead of Wednesday’s game at Target Center. Sabonis, who is averaging 17.8 points and 13.1 rebounds this season, is listed as questionable with left knee soreness.
Indiana will definitely be without Victor Oladipo. The star guard has missed the past year after rupturing his quad tendon. Oladipo is expected to make his long-awaited return to action later this month, but will miss Indiana’s two meetings this week with Minnesota — the only two times the teams face off this season.