If you're a Timberwolves fan who believes newly signed Josh Howard should have arrived in Minnesota nine years ago rather than Friday morning, know this:
You're not alone.
Howard himself thinks so, too, about that draft night in 2003 when the Wolves bypassed him and selected Ndudi Ebi 26th overall. Howard ended up going 29th to Dallas after Memphis picked Kendrick Perkins and San Antonio took Leandro Barbosa.
"I remember Ndudi Ebi's name getting called before me," Howard said after passing a physical and participating in Friday morning's shootaround with his new teammates. "No disrespect to him, but I just used that as motivation throughout my career."
That career has taken him from Dallas to Washington to Utah, and includes a 2008 All-Star Game appearance.
Howard, 32, hadn't played an NBA game since last spring's playoffs with Utah until he quickly became Andrei Kirilenko's backup at small forward on Friday night. He had been working out on his own back home in Dallas and waiting for an NBA team to call.
That team was the injury-ravaged Wolves, who worked him out in Dallas when the team was there Monday for a game against the Mavericks and then signed him Thursday to a one-year contract for the veteran's minimum. Howard played 14 minutes Friday, making three of 10 shots and scoring six points. He even unexpectedly played some shooting guard in a makeshift second-half lineup.
"The Timberwolves were looking for somebody to step in until those guys get back," Howard said. "I'm glad they thought of me. I got tired of working out every day. I was ready to be with a team."
Wolves starters Nikola Pekovic and Brandon Roy and reserve guard J.J. Barea sat out again Friday because of injuries. The Wolves now have five days before Wednesday's game against Denver to get them healthy enough to play.
Thinking of Andrei
The Wolves signed Howard because coach Rick Adelman doesn't want to play Kirilenko 44 minutes every night, like he did in the Wolves' two games after Chase Budinger went down Saturday with a knee injury that required surgery on Tuesday.
"I don't want to get worn down," Kirilenko said. "We have a very experienced coach who knows what he's doing."
About that knee...
Howard had arthroscopic knee surgery last March but returned for the playoffs.
When asked about it on Friday, he said, "I feel like my normal self."
• Golden State coach Mark Jackson played one season with Kirilenko in Utah in 2002-03. They combined on more than a few alley-oop plays, from point guard to forward. "He actually made me look better than I was," Jackson said. "It was a lot of fun."
• Former Wolves coach Flip Saunders attended a game Friday at Target Center for the first time since he was fired in 2005.
• Will Conroy's large, dramatically lit portrait was already gone Friday from all the Wolves players' images that line the wall from their locker room down to the visitors'. He requested it as a memento and took it after the team waived him to make room for Howard.