Over the past few years Justin Hamilton has been around. He has been a part of multiple NBA franchises, including his recent stint with New Orleans, where he didn’t even appear in a game.
He has played in Europe and in the NBA’s Development League.
His current wish: to stick with the Timberwolves.
“It’s great to be here,” said Hamilton, acquired off waivers, after his first practice with the team Friday. “I was really excited to join this team.”
Hamilton, who stayed well after practice to do some individual work, was still shaking his head at his most recent turn of events.
On Thursday he was in New Orleans, after having been waived by the Pelicans. Shortly after the Wolves got him, he was on a plane. By Friday morning he was practicing with future Hall of Fame player Kevin Garnett.
“This was great,” he said of practice. “There were a lot of young guys. It was nice to get a run in. KG was being active, talking, helping guys out. It’s nice to have that leadership here.”
A big man with some shooting range, Hamilton is a 7-foot security blanket for coach Flip Saunders. With Garnett and center Nikola Pekovic under strict minutes limits, and with Anthony Bennett still recovering from an ankle injury, the team needed another big man.
Now they have the rest of the season to see if Hamilton should be a part of the team’s future.
“He’s got a pretty decent skill set,” said Saunders, who said his staff had kept tabs on Hamilton for a while. “He knows how to play, to shoot the ball.”
Saunders said Hamilton could play as early as Saturday, against Portland at Target Center. Hamilton said he’ll be ready.
“It’s basketball,” he said. “They want me to play the four or the five. It’s just a matter of my learning those positions, the plays, and trying to help this team.”
The Wolves waived Glen Robinson III to make room for Hamilton.
A different team
The Trail Blazers come to town with a five-game winning streak, which has pushed them to third in the Western Conference. But the loss of guard Wes Matthews to an Achilles’ tendon tear Thursday night has changed the team significantly, Saunders said.
“No. 1, he’s one of the best three-point shooters in the league,” Saunders said of Matthews, who is fourth in the league in three-pointers made per game (2.9).
“And his post-up game has developed. He gave them toughness. And the other thing is Afflalo has to start.”
That would be Arron Afflalo, recently acquired by the Blazers in a trade that, in hindsight, looks very, very good.
• The Wolves finally got some good injury news. Guard Gary Neal left practice late after hurting his right hand.
But tests showed only a bruise, and Neal is listed as probable for Saturday’s game.
• Saunders said Pekovic was able to do some things in practice. He is expected to play Saturday. Bennett has started doing some individual work, but is a ways away from returning to practice, Saunders said.