MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio will have reconstructive surgery on his injured left knee next week.
The Timberwolves announced Friday that Rubio's operation will take place next Wednesday in Vail, Colo., with Dr. Richard Steadman, a noted physician who has treated many athletes over the years.
Rubio tore his anterior cruciate ligament last week with 16 seconds left in the game against the Los Angeles Lakers trying to defend Kobe Bryant near the 3-point arc. He will not be back this season, but the Timberwolves have expressed optimism that Rubio will be able to return at full strength for next season. ACL injury recoveries can vary widely, but they typically take about nine months to come back from.
"The way he is, he's going to get through this," head coach Rick Adelman said last week. "He's going to come back."
The Timberwolves are in the midst of a seven-game road trip, trying to stay in the Western Conference playoff picture without their popular rookie from Spain. Taken with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft, Rubio made his long-awaited NBA debut this season and energized the Timberwolves with his flashy passes, driving ability and upbeat attitude. He averaged 10.6 points, 8.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 steals in 41 games, 31 of them as a starter. He's third in the NBA in steals and fifth in assists. He had 12 double-doubles this season and 15 games of 10-plus assists.
Rubio will have to miss the London Olympics this summer, but the 21-year-old should have a long, productive future ahead of him if his knee heals properly.
"I feel for him with the summer coming up and everything else, but I have no doubts. If there's anyone who will do everything he can do to get back, he will," Adelman said.
Timberwolves general manager David Kahn has said he expects Rubio to be ready for the start of the 2012-13 season, which would open in either late October or early November.
"His competiveness knows no bounds. His work ethic knows no bounds. If ever there was a player that was ticketed to have not just a full recovery but to come back better than ever, stronger, it's Ricky Rubio," Kahn said last week. "I have no doubt that come next season he'll be back better than ever."
Rubio has used his Twitter account — (at)rickyrubio9 — to update the masses on his rehabilitation, and he's done nothing but accentuate the positive whether remarking about the unseasonably warm weather, encouraging his fans to smile or expressing confidence he'll come back strong. He even posted a video Wednesday of him riding through a store on a motorized cart, showing people how he's still able to shop despite the injury.
"He's young and is a guy that wants to be healthy, wants to play the game, loves the game," teammate Kevin Love said last week. "Him not going as hard as he can through this rehab process is just something he won't do. It's just not in him."
AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.