Wes Johnson looks likely to spend more time at small forward

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 24, 2011 - 8:06 AM

With two point guards on the floor, the second-year shooter will have to slide over to the 3 spot, a position he says he's comfortable playing.

The Timberwolves are near the end of a pretty intense, but also very short, training camp. Because of its relative brevity, coach Rick Adelman doesn't sound like he knows for sure what kind of team he has yet.

For example: when asked when he would decide on a starting lineup for Monday's opener.

"Monday," he said with a bit of a smile.

Will the team be ready for Oklahoma City, which is expected to make a run deep into the NBA playoffs?

"I don't think you ever know until you get out there on the court and play," Adelman said Friday. "We had two good practices [this week], good concentration. We're trying to cover everything going into that first game. But, you know, it will be interesting to see how we respond against one of the favorites in the league."

Adelman said he is most pleased with the progress the team has made on defense. But it sounds as though he is still trying to figure out rotations, especially pertaining to a few players, including Wes Johnson and Darko Milicic.

Johnson, entering his second season, played primarily shooting guard last year. It sounds as though Adelman sees him splitting time between shooting guard and small forward this season. Johnson likely will have to see some time at small forward, considering how much Adelman plans to use two point guards together on the court.

"That's something I'll have to tinker with," Adelman said. "But I do think he can play both spots."

Johnson would figure to play at forward when the Wolves are using a smaller lineup with Kevin Love at center.

"Really the 2s and 3s are interchangeable," Johnson said. "Both wings do pretty much the same thing. You get on the court, get to one side and read the offense, whatever it's called."

Johnson does look forward to being on the court with Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea, guards who like to penetrate and dish the ball. "There is a lot of motion going on [in the Wolves offense]," Johnson said. "That is going to open up a lot for us."

As for Milicic, Adelman is still trying to figure out how often he can use the big center.

"We have to find out who he can play and how many people he can play," Adelman said. "He's had a very good week, he's worked very hard. We know he can play the bigger guys. But can we have him on the floor when they spread it out? We'll find out."

Wells waived

Training-camp invitee Bonzi Wells was waived after getting brief playing time in the two preseason games. The 10-year veteran hasn't played in the NBA since 2008.

Wells had three points and four rebounds in 25 minutes in preseason games against Milwaukee. He was a long shot to make the Wolves, given that they have 15 players under guaranteed contracts.

Diving in

Rubio will begin his NBA career Monday with one of the more difficult matchups he will face all season in Thunder guard Russell Westbrook.

"It's going to be hard," Rubio said of guarding Westbrook. "He's very good. He knows how to play. We will be ready to stop him with all the team."

Health update

Johnson (ankle) returned to practice Friday. The only player who didn't participate was center Nikola Pekovic (strained groin), who missed his second practice in a row.

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