No matter how much rehab work Chase Budinger did on his knee inside the Minnesota Timberwolves facility this month, there was always a danger it could be undone the second he walked out the door.
It is winter in Minnesota, after all.
"That's one of the main reasons I got out of there," said Budinger, who is spending a week in Tucson while recovering from a torn meniscus.
"Everything was so icy there. For me to go to the grocery story, or to a restaurant, that little walk was dangerous. So it was good to get out of there for that reason."
Budinger could have avoided the ice by simply going home to Encinitas, Calif., but he instead chose to spend this week in Tucson in part because of the strong relationship he has with UA trainer Justin Kokoskie.
Kokoskie invited Budinger to not only rehab with him, but also stay in his house - for a small price.
"He's babysitting my kids," said Kokoskie, who has a 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. "They think it's kind of funny. All of the players have been there, but Chase is one of their favorites."
Budinger chatted about his injury and rehabilitation with a few reporters at McKale Center on Friday. This was some of the conversation:
Were the Timberwolves OK with you coming here?
A: It's pretty basic (rehab) stuff, and also the team is on a lot of road trips, so they were willing to let me go. It's been great so far having Justin take care of it and staying at his house. … It just shows you the type of guy he is. He was like, 'Hey if you ever want to come to Tucson and do some rehab, you're able to come here' … and also (UA coach) Sean Miller has welcomed me to the team and let me be with his guys.
"He's encouraged me to talk to his players, and I'll do anything possible just to help.
Does Miller ever give you a hard time about not staying an extra year (Budinger would have been a senior during the 2009-10 season)?
A: (Smiles) Uh, no, not too much. He's joked around here and there but never gave me a hard time.
It seems like you were on track to have your best year yet in the NBA (Budinger was averaging 11.8 points and 3.5 rebounds when he was hurt last month). Is that frustrating?
A: Yeah, it was bad timing. I probably was playing the best basketball I have in the NBA so far. Was bonding well with my teammates. But I'll be able to get back there this season. … I would say early March, that's kind of the goal."
Were you excited about the trade (from Houston to Minnesota last summer) when it happened?
A: I was. I was talking to my agent, and Minnesota was one of the places I wanted to be traded to.
What about (Timberwolves coach Rick) Adelman is a good fit for you?
A: There's a lot of movement in his offense, coming off screens, a lot of spacing and all of those things I do really well. In his offense, you've gotta be really unselfish. All of those things, in Houston, they didn't really utilize with me. Pretty much all I was was a spot-up three-point shooter."
What will it be like watching (the UA-Florida) game?
A: It will be little different. I feel when I watch games now I'm like one of those dads who watched their kid and critiques everything. I'm always talking to myself and saying, 'They should have done this or that." I'm going to try to just watch it as a fan and take everything in."