by Ryne Nelson

Al Jefferson rocked back and forth on the floor last night, holding his throbbing knee. The Wolves ace landed awkwardly on Sean Marks’ foot with 27.2 seconds remaining, causing his right knee to twist about 20 degrees to the inside when he landed. He hopped toward the Wolves’ bench but hobbled to the floor instead.

Reports indicate Jefferson will miss the rest of the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee and will have surgery in 6-10 days. From the Star-Tribune:

Al Jefferson, the Timberwolves’ best player, will likely miss the rest of the season with a torn knee ligament. He suffered the injury Sunday night in New Orleans near the end of the Wolves’ 101-97 loss to the Hornets.

Jefferson leaped, landed awkwardly on one foot and tumbled to the floor. He got back up, hopped toward the Wolves’ bench but collapsed, writhing in pain and clutching his right knee.

For those who think the injury is a blessing in disguise, think again. The Wolves’ franchise player may never be the same, and the upcoming Class of 2009 may be one of the weakest in several years. Not only that, but the injuries to Jefferson and Brewer (who suffered a similar injury in late November) could be a huge deterrents in attracting free agents this summer. Kevin Love and Rodney Carney should have minutes to develop, but that’s the only true upside of the situation.

How Jefferson handles the rehab will be a test for him. He was quietly criticized for not being in proper shape this season, and the big question will be how hard he works to get into even better shape after being laid up for several months.

How the Timberwolves will manage to put up even 90 points per game from here on out is a mystery. Kevin McHale can look forward to seeing exactly how average the rest of his talent really is.