The Timberwolves play on without injured star Jimmy Butler, continuing tonight at Sacramento in what is the start of a three-game trip and their final 19 regular-season games that'll determine if they reach the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said he and his staff will consider adding a player to a roster that has had one open spot all season, but said they won't be compelled to do so with Butler out for the next month or more.
"We talk every day about the possibilities," he said at this morning's shootaround. "We're 60 games into it. I like the team that we have."
That team he has now starts backup power forward Nemanja Bjelica at small forward and moves Andrew Wiggins to Butler's big-guard spot.
The Wolves received about as good as news as they could have hoped for when Butler went down clutching his knee in the third quarter of Friday's game at Houston: Sunday morning surgery on a partial tear of Butler's meniscus cartilage has him aimed at a return in time for the playoffs, if the Wolves get there in a Western Conference where 4 1/2 games separate third-place San Antonio and 10th-place Utah.
They finish their three-game trip at Portland and Utah -- two teams pursuing the fourth-place Wolves -- and then after a rare five-day break play Boston, Golden State, Washington, San Antonio, Houston and the L.A. Clippers consecutively.
Guard Derrick Rose, whom Thibodeau coached in Chicago, remains a free agent.
So, too, do players such as veterans Tony Allen, Mike Dunleavy and Randy Foye, who started his career with the Wolves 11 years ago.
The Wolves also could keep their eye on the waiver wire this week for any player bought out by Thursday's deadline. Players waived by then are eligible to be included on another team's playoff roster.
They also could recall rookie center Justin Patton from their Iowa G League team for his NBA debut. Patton played 32 minutes on Sunday for the first time in road back from July foot surgery. Thibodeau said he wants to see Patton continue to play more games without a minutes restriction, like Sunday's.
"Just continue to make progress down there," Thibodeau said. "Up front, we feel good about the players we have here. Once he can get through some games down there, we'll take a look at bringing him back."
The Wolves also have two-way contract players Anthony Brown and Amile Jefferson they could recall, but Thibodeau has given no indication they could break into his rotation.
Whatever moves the Wolves make or don't make, they will do so without their best player.
Tonight, they play on against an 18-41 Kings team that has lost three consecutive games.
"The main thing is we just want Jimmy to be healthy again," Thibodeau said. "We're not going to put a timeline on it. He's already begun the rehab process and hopefully that will go well. We'll take it step-by-step."
One other thing from shoot:
Thibodeau on prominent NBA agent Dan Fegan, who died Sunday morning at age 56 in a motor-vehicle accident in Aspen, Colo.: "Really sad, a terrible loss. A great agent, a really good person. Just sad for his family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
At one time, Fegan represented Wolves players Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and J.J. Barea as well as Dwight Howard, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Shawn Mario, DeAndre Jordan and Amar'e Stoudemire.