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Former Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea

Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

WOLVES TRAINING CAMP

Preseason opener: 7 p.m. Saturday

vs. Milwaukee at Target Center

TV: FSN alternate (830-AM)

Wolves: 3 point guards better than 2

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA
  • Star Tribune
  • December 15, 2011 - 6:40 AM

The Timberwolves introduced J.J. Barea early Wednesday evening and, Luke Ridnour's absent voice notwithstanding, immediately dispelled the notion that three point guards cannot coexist happily.

Barea's arrival via free-agent signing gives the team three players who each earn $3.5 million or more and occupy the same position.

So who's the odd man out at a spot where conventional wisdom says there's usually only room for two?

Answer: Nobody.

Or so says Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn.

Not in a squeezed 66-game, 123-day schedule and not with the Wolves intending to play both Barea and Ridnour off the ball at shooting guard at times.

Kahn said he didn't want to enter such a season with only Ricky Rubio and Ridnour just in case -- "God forbid," Kahn said -- one of them gets injured.

(The Wolves also have rookie combo guard Malcolm Lee, but aren't certain yet how much they can ask of him.)

"This season is going to be an enormous challenge," Kahn said. "I think this will work well."

New coach Rick Adelman said Wednesday that he will make it work, perhaps out of necessity more than anything else.

Adelman spoke at length after practice about a Wolves team that led the NBA in turnovers last season and hasn't improved nearly enough for his liking in training camp's first six days.

"I don't think I've ever seen a group that's as good at turning the ball over as this one," he said. "The way we're handling the ball, I need ball-handlers on the floor and guys who can make plays."

Even if the new guy isn't nearly the 5-11 height at which Barea is listed.

Ridnour declined interview requests Tuesday and Wednesday after it became known the Wolves and Barea had agreed on a four-year, $19 million deal that takes him away from defending NBA champion Dallas. The Mavericks only offered a one-year deal for salary-cap reasons.

And according to Kahn, Ridnour quickly asked during a conversation if the team intended to split point-guard minutes three ways.

Ridnour played off the ball some with point guard Brandon Jennings in Milwaukee. Barea started alongside All-Star point guard Jason Kidd in last summer's NBA Finals.

Adelman has a history of playing small guards together -- Terry Porter and Danny Ainge in Portland, Mike Bibby and Bobby Jackson in Sacramento, Kyle Lowry and Aaron Brooks in Houston -- and aims to do so again because of the glaring need for ball-handlers and playmakers.

"I'm going to have to do that," Adelman said. "I've done it before every place I've coached. ... So we're going to try it and we're going to get hurt [by the lack of size], but that's my plan. I've got to put the best players I have out on the floor and our three point guards are all good players."

And that's all right with Barea, who said he took clearly the best financial and most committed suitor and signed with the Wolves knowing he likely will play at shooting guard some with Rubio and perhaps Ridnour.

"I like to play with point guards at the same time," he said.

Why?

"I think I like to shoot the ball, too," he said, smiling. "I get my rest and wait for the ball to come to me. Sometimes I can bring it down, sometimes he can bring it down. It makes our job a lot easier. I see us playing at the same time, especially at the end of games. I think it's always good to have two good point guards on the floor.

"But we'll see. I just got here."

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