Timberwolves veteran point guard A.J. Price knew things were good and he had made the final cut before the team finalized its 15-man roster because coach Rick Adelman talked to him after practice Saturday.
“Probably for the first time all camp,” he said with a slight grin.
Adelman is known as a man of few words, but he had praise for Price and rookie Robbie Hummel when the Wolves decided to waive big man Chris Johnson and pay off his $916,000 guaranteed contract to keep both players after Adelman determined they had separated themselves from challengers Johnson, Othyus Jeffers and Lorenzo Brown during the month of October.
“That was good to hear,” said Price, who played his first three NBA seasons with Indiana and last season with Washington. “He just said, ‘You came in, you worked very hard. We’re impressed with your professionalism, and you’re a great guy in the locker room and you played well on the court.’ So he said congratulations, and I just thanked him for the opportunity.
“I was delighted. It was great news.”
Hummel likewise was congratulated by Adelman during a post-practice chat Saturday and then said he got bombarded by Twitter and text messages from fans and friends who cheered his accomplishment after he tore up his knee twice in nine months during his college career at Purdue.
“I think the entire city of Valparaiso was tweeting at me last night,” Hummel said Sunday, referring to his Indiana hometown. “That’s pretty cool, to have that connection with your hometown. It was a pretty cool day.”
Once considered a potential lottery pick, Hummel was picked by the Wolves late in the 2012 draft’s second round because of those injuries to the same knee that sidetracked his collegiate career and sent him to Spain last season to play his way to the NBA.
“Pretty crazy, you’ve worked for something for so long, dreamed about it since you were a kid,” Hummel said. “And in my situation, to have it delayed by a couple years, it’s pretty cool, pretty satisfying. It just makes it all the sweeter, but at the same time there is a lot of work to be done. It’s great to accomplish a goal, but there are more things I want to get done than just make the team.”
Hummel is a 6-8 forward who impressed Adelman with his shooting, his smarts and the flexibility to play both forward positions. Price is a 6-2 point guard who impressed Adelman with his NBA experience, his reliability and professionalism.
Adelman said the team waived Johnson because he and Flip Saunders couldn’t see how Johnson would earn playing time — “Real slim,” Adelman said — with Nikola Pekovic, Ronny Turiaf and Gorgui Dieng ahead of him.
He said Hummel and Price together could help the Wolves win a game or two, although he added that Price will have a more difficult time getting on the floor as long as point guards Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea stay healthy.
“I think there’s a place,” Adelman said about both players. “If something did happen where they had to play, you wouldn’t hesitate to play them. They both have proven they can do that. I think that’s what we were looking for, 14 guys who give us the best shot to win.”
• Pekovic scrimmaged at Sunday’s practice, three days after he missed Thursday’s preseason finale at Detroit because of a bruised thigh sustained the night before in Philadelphia.
• Adelman said Sunday he still doesn’t know who he’ll start at small forward and said the decision probably will vary from game to game depending on matchups, though he’d prefer to have a consistent starting five.