Healthy Wolves, crowded bench

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 15, 2014 - 12:48 AM

It’s been nearly two years since Rick Adelman fielded 15 able-bodied players. Now who gets to play and who sits?

Now that he’s done mediating his team’s locker-room differences, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman turned his attention to another issue: What to do with a roster completely healthy for the first time in nearly two years and a bench that finally presents him with options?

“That’s a good problem,” he said.

Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf returned from injuries last week that kept them out of all or most of the season’s first two months. Rookie Shabazz Muhammad came back Monday after a four-game assignment to the NBA’s Development League. Veteran Luc Mbah a Moute is available again after missing three games because of a groin injury.

The Wolves bench — too often the team’s glaring weakness for those first two months — now appears representable and potentially formidable.

The Wolves practiced Monday and Tuesday with all 15 players on their roster healthy and available. Until last week, the Wolves hadn’t been completely healthy since March 3, 2012, Adelman’s first season on the job and six days before Ricky Rubio sustained a season-ending knee injury in his rookie year.

Turiaf adds interior defense, a certain sense of spirit and he allows Adelman to rest starting center Nikola Pekovic longer. Budinger adds athleticism, three-point shooting and expertise on Adelman’s unconventional offense to a second unit that already included J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved and Dante Cunningham.

“I don’t think it will take long at all,” Turiaf said about adapting to each other, “because I think our set of skills between the five of us match really well.”

But the Wolves’ healthy roster also means there’s not nearly enough playing time to keep everyone content.

“There are too many guys at one spot to play them all,” Adelman said. “They don’t expand the game to 60 minutes. I can’t change much. I have to play who I think is right.”

For now, Adelman appears prepared to play Budinger and Shved as the first players off his bench at small forward and shooting guard. Those decisions leave Mbah a Moute and Muhammad — not to mention rookie Robbie Hummel and veteran point guard A.J. Price — on the outside.

“Whatever the rotation is today isn’t written in stone,” Adelman said. “That can change, depending on how our team is doing.”

For now, though, Muhammad’s situation seems to have changed little even though he discovered his confidence and his offensive game by averaging 24.5 points on 57 percent shooting and 9.8 rebounds in four games with the D-League’s Iowa Energy.

Mbah a Moute has played fewer than 10 minutes in two games back from that groin injury. Wednesday’s home game is the first this season against Sacramento and the first since Mbah a Moute was acquired from the Kings in a late November trade that sent away former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams.

Williams is coming off the bench since the Kings acquired small forward Rudy Gay shortly after trading for Williams. He is averaging 25 minutes and 9.5 points on 50 percent shooting in 22 games in Sacramento entering Tuesday’s game at Indiana.

Mbah a Moute is trying to convince his offensive-minded coach he deserves to be on the floor because of his often one-dimensional specialty, defense.

“I do think there will be times when Luc will be real important if there’s a Durant or someone where we need a defender there,” Adelman said, referring to Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant. “We have defensive players, and we have offensive players, but the two don’t meet and that makes it real hard. What do you do? How do you win games? And you have to measure: Is the offensive player going to be more effective than the defensive player because you have to play both ends.”

For now, Adelman will go with his instincts while also remaining prepared to experiment if needed.

“I don’t know, that looks like a good group but you’ve got to give it time, too,” Adelman said, referring to a second unit of Barea, Shved, Budinger, Turiaf and Cunningham. “It’s going to take some time. It’s hard on guys who have been playing because now you’re changing things, but we’ve got to try it.”

  • wolves 7 tonight vs. Sacramento • TV: FSN (830-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60


question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters