Not having played in an NBA game in nearly a month and still wearing a small brace on his mending right thumb, Omri Casspi said he was excited to be wearing a Wolves jersey, his third in a month’s time.
“I made a joke yesterday,’’ said Casspi, 28, who was signed by the Wolves Monday for the rest of the season in the wake of a season-ending injury to Nemanja Bjelica. “Within a month I had three different jerseys on. From Feb. 20 to March 20, I was in Sacramento still, then going to New Orleans, and now here. But it’s just playing basketball. It’s fun and I’m going to enjoy this ride.’’
The veteran stretch-four figures to play some in the Wolves’ game with San Antonio at Target Center – it’s an 8:30 start, remember. And he figures to fill much the same role as Bjelica did off the bench.
“We need shooting,’’ Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We knew that.’’
Thibodeau pointed to the way Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are being defended. Even Ricky Rubio – whose scoring and shooting has improved – is starting to see some double teams off pick and rolls, according to Thibodeau.
“So shooting is critical,’’ he said. “We think (Casspi) can open up the floor. He’s shown throughout his career he’s been a really good shooter. We’ve always liked him. So we’ll get a look at him.’’
And Casspi will get a look at the Wolves. Casspi knew he could get minutes right off the bat by signing here. But another draw was the Wolves willingness to sign him to a deal that included no obligation guarantees for next season. So Casspi will have flexibility come this summer.
But, over the rest of the season, Casspi will give the Wolves a reliable shooter – he’s a career 36.9-percent three-point shooter – and some veteran experience.
The biggest draw, according to Casspi?
“Being able to play under coach Thibs, and kind of being in a situation to help the team win and compete for the playoffs – though it will be tough, to be realistic,’’ he said. “I thought my talk with coach was great. I felt like it was the right situation for me.’’
He said he has other offers. And while joining a team clearly headed for a playoff run was tempting, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to crack the rotation on such a team with such little time left in the regular season.
Thibodeau and some of the Wolves players walked through some plays at the team’s practice facility Monday. There was more of that at today’s shootaround. Thibodeau wouldn’t say how much he thought Casspi could play.
Casspi admitted there would be rust, but said he was ready. “Tonight is a big game, so I’m going to do what I do,’’ he said. “I come off the bench to bring energy and get rebounds and get out and run and shoot the open shots. ‘’
Casspi will a small brace on his thumb, but he said it wouldn’t affect his shot. “I want to share some of my experience and help this team win basketball games. Learn how to play with them, and enjoy this ride and see where it goes from there.’’
Here are some other notes from this morning:
--Bjelica is scheduled to have surgery on a fractured navicular bone in his left foot in New York today. Bjelica sustained the injury in the second quarter of the March 15 game Boston.
--There is a reason why Casspi wears the No. 18. The number 18 has spiritual meaning in Judaism.