Wolves still weighing Griffin's fate

  • Article by: Steve Aschburner
  • Star Tribune
  • February 2, 2007 - 10:36 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY - With exiled Timberwolves forward Eddie Griffin reportedly back home in Houston, and with the team headed there Sunday for its game against the Rockets the next night, it seemed natural to ask: Just what is going on?

The answer at this point is more gray than it appeared to be a couple of weeks ago.

General Manager Jim Stack said before the Wolves' game against the Hornets on Friday night that "it's something we're evaluating." He said he was reasonably sure there would be a resolution one way or the other in the next several days.

"We're looking into doing a few things with him in terms of evaluation," Stack said, remaining intentionally vague.

Still, that's more fudge room, regarding Griffin's continued employment with the club, than Wolves owner Glen Taylor indicated two weeks earlier. Taylor said on Jan. 19 that Griffin probably would be released if the team, the player and his representatives were unable to negotiate a buyout of Griffin's contract (a three-year, $8.1 million deal signed before the 2005-06 season).

Several things, however, have changed since then. A potential deal with Detroit for a frontcourt player never happened; that would have made the 6-10 Griffin more expendable. Currently, the Wolves have eight natural backcourt players on their 14-man roster and only two men taller than 6-8.

Also, with the coaching change from Dwane Casey to Randy Wittman, the Wolves may want to see how Griffin would respond to Wittman. The 24-year-old's off-court issues, including a history of alcohol abuse and run-ins with the law, added another chapter on Jan. 12 when he failed an NBA drug test and was suspended for five games.

With the NBA trading deadline approaching (Feb. 22), it also might make sense for the Wolves to hang on to Griffin while they explore other options.

McCants revving up

Guard Rashad McCants said that, when he played his first minutes of the season the other night against Sacramento, he felt like he was going at a Phoenix Suns pace, instead of playing more in line with the Kings' tempo.

Hard to blame him, though, given all the sitting and watching that preceded his stint of 4 minutes, 38 seconds in the second quarter.

"I was going a little too fast, moving too much," said McCants, preparing for his second appearance Friday, more than seven months after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee.

The second-year shooting guard said that his knee felt fine the day after and that his conditioning was good. Now he's eager to find a niche in what's left of this season.

"I've got a lot of baskets, a lot of defense, a lot of energy in me," McCants said.

Wittman: No new deal

While all signs point to Wittman as the Wolves' long-term -- as in, beyond this season -- choice to continue as head coach, he hasn't received a new contract or a formal pay hike since being promoted Jan. 23 to replace Dwane Casey. "Not that I know of," he said after Friday's game in Oklahoma City.

Steve Aschburner •

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