After missing the Minnesota Timberwolves' last 52 games, there is reportedly "optimism" Karl-Anthony Towns could return as soon as Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks, according to the Athletic's Shams Charania Tuesday.
In Towns' last appearance on Nov. 28 against the Washington Wizards, he went down with a non-contact calf injury. Shortly after, it was reported Towns was expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a calf strain. Although similar injuries take anywhere from 8-12 weeks for full recovery.
In the nearly four months since his last appearance, there was disagreement in the reports of his progress.
Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch denied there had been a setback on Jan. 30, saying it was "all part of the process."
The All-Star recently center told The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski he did in fact suffer a "major setback" in January while recovering, forcing him to effectively restart a multi-month rehab process from scratch.
"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."
It's been a tough season for Towns, who was hospitalized with an illness in early October. Towns confirmed to reporters that his weight had dropped to 231 pounds — 17 pounds below his listed playing weight.
Only out for the Timberwolves last two games, Charania reported fellow All-Star Anthony Edwards could also return on Wednesday.
Edwards sustained a right ankle sprain during the first quarter of a double-overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls Friday. The team went 1-2 in those games, seeing an impressive 35-point effort from Taurean Prince in a crucial victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
Going 26-26 in Towns' Absence, his return combined with Edwards' could significantly benefit Minnesota. The team currently sits at No. 8 in the Western Conference with 10 games remaining in its regular season.