MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -When the Minnesota Timberwolves began training camp, Rashad McCants declared himself as healthy as he has been since his freshman year in college.
Well, though the games don't count until next month, the start of the season hasn't been what McCants was hoping for. While the team practiced in Turkey on Oct. 2, he developed a cramp in his hamstring. It became sore during a scrimmage the next day and was limited by the injury over the balance of the week.
McCants returned to practice Monday and Tuesday in London, but coach Randy Wittman wasn't sure whether he would play him in Wednesday's exhibition game against Kevin Garnett and Boston.
``At this point in time, we don't need to be messing around with a strained hamstring,'' Wittman said on a conference call from across the Atlantic Ocean. ``You don't want another situation to crop up that lingers for a month.''
McCants needed microfracture surgery on his right knee in June 2006, a dangerous injury that has afflicted many notable NBA players. He returned at the end of January and appeared in 37 games, averaging five points and shooting 35 percent from the field in what by then was a lost season for Minnesota.
``I try not to think about last year - how it ended, how it began, the whole year,'' McCants said at Target Center before the team left for Europe. ``I think this year is totally different from the aspect that I'm completely healthy. ... This summer everything kind of turned around a little bit. I've been healthy all summer.''
The 14th overall draft pick in 2005, McCants has the potential to give the Wolves a strong 3-point shooter with a fast first step to the basket from his shooting guard spot.
He looked like, well, a rookie during his rookie season. Then came the injury. But his time to emerge is now for a revamped team sporting nine players age 25 or younger and plenty of uncertainty following the Garnett trade. Wittman said it was too early to tell whether McCants would be a starter, but it's clear he's counting on consistent production from him.
Wittman said at the beginning of camp that McCants looked ``night and day'' different from the previous season after checking in at about 208 pounds with a more lean look on his 6-foot-4 frame.
Though McCants has faced questions about his attitude from his days at North Carolina, the Timberwolves have never publicly questioned that. The coaching staff and front office was raving about his condition and work habits just a couple of weeks ago.
``It's not from a lack of effort,'' vice president Kevin McHale said.
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AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.

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