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Wolves could get Nikola Pekovic back for the new year

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The NBA season is 18 games old for the Timberwolves (8-10) and they've found a way to stay within striking distance of a playoff spot nearing the quarter pole of the season.

Following Tuesday's home loss to the Magic, the Wolves are tied for eighth in the Western Conference.

Talking about postseason basketball in Minnesota still isn't realistic – it hasn't been for a decade – but it doesn't hurt that the Wolves could get Nikola Pekovic back from offseason Achilles surgery in January.

"Hopefully with this surgery I’ve solved all my problems," Pekovic said Tuesday, via the Star Tribune, while adding that he feels he "can come back and play like I used to play before."

Pekovic isn't free of pain and there isn't a specific timetable set for his return, but he hopes to begin some five on zero drills within the next two weeks, Timberwolves' writer Kyle Ratke reports.

Injuries have plagued the big man throughout his career, limiting him to just 31 games last season, but the two years he was relatively healthy from 2012-2014, Pekovic averaged about 16.5 points and just under 9 rebounds per game.

When Pekovic does return it will be interesting to see how coach Sam Mitchell balances playing time for Pekovic, Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng. Towns sat out the entire fourth quarter against Orlando, and has seen his late-game minutes decrease significantly over the past week.

"Man, don't come ask me that question," Mitchell barked at a reporter when asked about Towns' playing time, according to ESPN. "Ask me a question about the game. Don't ask me a question about playing time."

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