It has been nearly four months since Karl-Anthony Towns last suited up for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Apparently, the layoff has been even rougher behind closed doors.
The All-Star center told The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski he suffered a "major setback" in January while recovering from the calf injury that sidelined him in late November, forcing him to effectively restart a multi-month rehab process from scratch.
Towns indicated as much later that month when he posted a photo of himself wearing a walking boot on his right foot after previously being seen without one, but Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch denied there had been a setback on Jan. 30, saying it was "all part of the process."
Speaking a couple months later, Towns disputed that idea:
"It was obvious. You have a boot one day, then you're out of a boot and now you're back in a boot. That's a setback," he said, declining to say what specifically happened. "I think there will be a time and place to talk about that. But not right now."
Towns reportedly added that he was not on the Minnesota bench for several games because he had to keep his foot elevated and struggled to stand up for more than 20 minutes while at one game.
The Timberwolves haven't enjoyed their time without Towns. As of Monday afternoon, the team sits at 35-37 and tied for ninth place in the Western Conference, but only half a game of falling behind the Utah Jazz for the final spot in the NBA play-in tournament. It recently lost another All-Star in Anthony Edwards as well.
The good news is Towns might finally be close to a return. The Timberwolves announced last week that he is "expected to return in the coming weeks," while Towns told The Athletic he is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel:
"I feel good there is a day (coming)," Towns said. "There's a time. I've been in the darkness of the tunnel and trying to figure out where I'm going. It's good to know that there's some light at the end of the tunnel."
Minnesota has 11 games remaining in its season after Monday, but plenty of ground to lose if it doesn't keep pace.