More than a month after he returned from a six-game assignment in the NBA Development League, Timberwolves rookie Tyus Jones did not play Wednesday for a 12th consecutive game.
Sent to Idaho in early December to get some playing time and brought back for Christmas, Jones hasn't played for the Wolves since a Jan. 4 game at Philadelphia. With Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell committed to Zach LaVine at backup point guard and Ricky Rubio and Andre Miller ahead of him as well, there's no space now for Jones to play and no discussions that he return to the D League, either.
"There are pros to both, so I can't complain either way," Jones said about practicing in the NBA or playing in the D League. "Obviously, I like being here, being with the team and supporting my teammates. I'm a team guy. Even though I'm not playing, I'm still their biggest supporter."
Even given the Wolves' limited practice time, Jones said he believes he'll improve more practicing against NBA players than playing additional games in the D League. Teammate Adreian Payne was sent there Monday, likely for five or six games with an Erie, Pa., team.
"Just the competition," Jones said. "Playing against Ricky, Zach, Andre, those guys push me. Being able to compete against them every day, you have no choice but to get better."
Jones played from 11 to 20 minutes as the backup point guard in six games after he returned from the D League, but he hasn't played since Mitchell decided to move LaVine back to that spot.
"I think I'm handling it well," Jones said about his rookie season. "I'm living out my dream on an NBA team, and luckily it's in my hometown. I couldn't ask for anything better. … The NBA is different. You've got to work for everything and earn everything and nothing is given. I knew that coming in. I've been prepared and ready for anything I've had to face."
Wolves young stars Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and LaVine have been invited to play in next month's Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend in Toronto. Wiggins will play for the World team, Towns and LaVine for the U.S. team in a game featuring first- and second-year players.
"They deserve it," Mitchell said. "I couldn't handle the responsibility [at 20] we're asking these guys to handle, the pressure and all the things we're putting on their shoulders. They're very, very good, respectful young men. I couldn't have done all that at 20."
• The two Kevins — Garnett (sore knee) and Martin (sore right wrist) — each missed a second consecutive game Wednesday.
• Payne scored 26 points and had seven rebounds in his first D League game on Wednesday, a 106-96 loss to Toronto's team.