The Wolves on Monday assigned second-year forward Adreian Payne to the Erie Bayhawks in the NBA Development League before their game tonight in Cleveland against a Cavaliers team playing its second game since coach David Blatt was fired and replaced by Ty Lue.
Payne's assignment comes just as fellow power forward Kevin Garnett is being further bothered by a sore knee. It could leave the Wolves without two power-forward options if Garnett is out for any length of time.
(UPDATE PREGAME, 5:15 pm Central time: Garnett will not play tonight. Sam Mitchell said before the game that KG's status is day to day, but there's a very good chance they rest him through at least this week to see if they can't get that sore knee better. Without him and with Payne absent, the Wolves will rely on Gorgui Dieng, Nikola Pekovic (as center to Karl-Anthony Towns' power forward probably), Nemanja Bjelica and Damjan Rudez at that spot)
UPDATE, 6:45 pm Central time: Now reserve guard Kevin Martin has been scratched from the game as well because of that sore right shooting wrist that has bothered him for some time. END UPDATES)
Payne has played 30 games with the Wolves so far this season, averaging 9.5 minutes and 2.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in those games.
He played games with D League teams in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Austin, Tex., during his rookie season a year ago before Atlanta traded him to the Wolves last February.
Because the Wolves don't yet have their own D League affiliate, Payne is headed to Erie on what's called a flexible assignment, meaning they had to find a D League willing to take him and play him significant minutes. That's much like the Wolves did in December with Tyus Jones' assignment to Idaho.
Erie is Orlando's D-League affiliate.
The Wolves shot around at Quicken Loans Arena this morning while the Cavaliers did so at their suburban training facility.
For Wolves forward Andrew Wiggins isn't just another game, not if you judge it by his 31.6 point scoring average in three games played aganist the team that drafted him first overall and then traded him before he ever played a game in Cleveland in that blockbuster deal for Kevin Love.
After shootaround today, Love said someday facing the Wolves will become yet another game, like going home to play in Portland has become.
But not yet.
"It will take a little bit for it to become another game," he said. "It's still relatively fresh. It has been a year and a half now. Eventually it will."