The Timberwolves negotiated on Saturday to buy out the contract of veteran forward Juwan Howard, a move that once finalized will get them to their 15-player roster limit by Monday's 5 p.m. deadline.
The Wolves also are expected to release Wayne Simien -- acquired with Antoine Walker and Michael Doleac in Wednesday's trade with Miami -- by Monday. Simien is the only one of those three players who was told not to report to the team.
"We've finally gotten down to a number," said Wolves coach Randy Wittman, who added that another roster move always could happen but that he doesn't expect one. "We can move forward now."
Howard hugged teammates goodbye after Friday's exhibition finale at Target Center and did not attend the Wolves' public scrimmage there on Saturday evening. The Wolves open the regular season at home Friday against Denver.
Acquired from Houston in June for guard Mike James and forward Justin Reed, Howard believed then that he would finally get the chance to play with Kevin Garnett, whom he almost joined as a teammate when he was a free agent four years ago. Instead, the Wolves dealt Garnett to Boston in July, and when the team opening training camp last month, Howard clearly but respectfully said he had told the team that, at this stage of his 13-year NBA career, he'd rather play for a title contender.
Howard provided the Wolves with a list of five teams for whom he'd like to play. But unable to make a deal for assets commensurate a player due to make $6.88 million this season and $7.37 million next season -- the two remaining years on his contract -- team officials will pay him a portion of his money due and release him so he can sign with any other NBA team as a free agent.
"I think it made sense for both parties," Wittman said.
On Friday, newly acquired Antoine Walker -- who, like Howard, was a former Chicago schoolboy star -- joined the Wolves. By Saturday, the teammate he knew longest was gone.
"I'm disappointed," said Walker, who, at age 31, is three years younger than Howard. "I was looking forward to it. Me and Juwan grew up as kids together. He was in high school when I was in elementary school. He was a big star in Chicago. I know he's thinking of trying to play for a championship, so hopefully best of luck to him."
Howard did not play in four of the team's eight preseason games. He has averaged 16.1 and 7.1 rebounds in his career. Expect him to choose to play for a list of teams such as Boston, where he'd finally get a chance to play with Garnett, Cleveland, Dallas, San Antonio, Miami and Phoenix.
The Wolves had 17 players in training camp and 18 listed on their roster Saturday. By late in their scrimmage on Saturday, they had only 10 available bodies after Greg Buckner, Theo Ratliff, Chris Richard and Randy Foye sat because of minor injuries.
"We started running out of bodies, which sounds funny," Wittman said.