The Timberwolves’ totally unsurprising signing of free agent Derrick Rose on Thursday might have caused you to ask where his point-guard minutes might come on a team that already has starter Jeff Teague and backup Tyus Jones.
The better question might be: With Rose and hometown-raised Jones now together, does it have to be an either/or proposition concerning the team’s three point guards?
Will Rose play with Teague and/or Jones and if not, why not?
“That’d be great,” Teague said when asked about the prospect. “You see every other team do it.”
In Thursday’s home loss to Boston, Celtics coach Brad Stevens mixed and matched his three point guards all night, pairing Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier with one or the other except for the first and third quarters’ opening minutes. Nobody played less than Rozier’s 24 minutes.
Stevens also has played all three point guards together in limited stretches of 41 games this season, to the tune of a very respectable 10.0 net rating.
“Smart, Kyrie, Rozier all out there and they had it rolling,” Teague said, referring to Thursday’s game. “Everybody focuses on Kyrie, but you’ve got multiple guys who can make plays and do things on the floor, handle the ball, get in the paint. It makes everybody’s job on offense a lot easier and then you can switch [defenders on pick-and-roll plays] and be a little more aggressive.”
In a traditional NBA, two point guards proved too small defensively. But there’s nothing traditional about this modern NBA, where Teague contends size disparity isn’t a liability at all.
“It’s almost you want guys to post up,” Teague said. “It slows down your offense. You play isolation, there’s less ball movement and you know where the fire is. You know who’s trying to score. It’s harder when the ball is moving and you don’t know where it’s coming from.”
Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau has played Teague and Jones just eight minutes together all season — Jones and little-used Aaron Brooks have played 13 — but Rose adds a natural scorer who’s strong for his size, with veteran and playoff experience who can play on or off the ball.
“I’m a huge Tyus fan, I think everybody knows that,” Teague said. “I think he plays the right way. I think he knows the game. He creates shots for others.”
Jones and rookie Kris Dunn played substantially together last season in a league that’s gone small, a league in which Houston has compiled the NBA’s best record by playing ball-dominant James Harden and Chris Paul in the same backcourt. Thibodeau deems Teague, Jones and Rose each capable of playing both guard spots.
“We have great versatility,” Thibodeau said. “Just like we did last year with Tyus and Kris. I think that’s the way of our league now. You want guys that can play multiple positions. It’s really positionless.”
Rose hasn’t played a game since Feb. 7 when Cleveland played the Wolves. Traded to Utah the next day and soon waived, he now is reunited with his former Chicago Bulls coach and calls himself intent on proving, at age 29, that he can still play, in any role required.
“I think I can play with anybody, to tell you the truth,” Rose said. “I know the game. I’m not a selfish player. I’m not here for stats or anything like that. I just want to win.”
Rose has reached the playoffs five times when he stayed healthy enough to play. Teague has made the playoffs each of his first eight years in the league and said he and Rose can play well together.
He also said he has wanted to play more with Jones.
“It’s something I’ve always kept asking if we can get a little more time together,” Teague said. “So hopefully in the future we will.”
NBA short takes
Wolves players met with three NBA representatives after Thursday’s shootaround as part of the league’s five-pronged initiative to improve referee-player relations.
The league is meeting with all 30 teams to discuss rules interpretations, on-court conduct and referees’ expectations.
It is doing so during a season when a notable list of players — including the Wolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns and Jeff Teague — have been ejected from games and defending champion Golden State is among the league leaders in both wins and ejections.
Conducting the meeting were Michelle Johnson, who heads NBA referee operations; Monty McCutchen, head of referee development and training and a former longtime referee; and former player Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
“Monty’s somebody we’ve seen for a while,” Wolves veteran guard Jamal Crawford. “He has always had great dialogue with players. He’s firm but fair. I thought it went well.”
Towns was ejected from a game at Utah on March 2 after he received two technical fouls before halftime. Teague was ejected that night after he body-checked Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio.
Towns was one of the most engaged players Thursday.
“It stays in the locker room what happened in there,” Towns said. “Just trying to get better. They voiced their concerns and we voiced our concerns. You try to meet at a middle ground.”
Wolves’ week ahead
Sunday: 2:30 p.m. vs. Golden State (Ch. 5)
Tuesday: 6 p.m. at Washington (FSN and NBATV)
Saturday: 7 p.m. at San Antonio (FSN+ and NBATV)
Player to wach: Kevin Durant, Golden State
It’s the Warriors’ only visit this season, and with Stephen Curry ruled out because of an ankle injury, Durant is the one to watch for a team that has JUST three healthy All-Stars.
“The health is the big thing. If he’s healthy, he’ll be good.”
Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau after his team signed free agent Derrick Rose on Thursday for the rest of the season