Now that injured Timberwolves Nemanja Bjelica and Lance Stephenson have returned to Minnesota, where does their team go next before that eighth and final playoff spot in the West completely disappears from sight?
Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau could ask Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad and Cole Aldrich to do more. He could summon Adreian Payne or Jordan Hill off the bench for the first time in weeks. Or with Stephenson's second 10-day contract expiring after tonight's game in Miami, the Wolves could sign a free agent to a 10-day contract so they have a fresh, healthy body.
"We'll see how it unfolds," Thibodeau said after his morning's shoot at AmericanAirline Arena. "We feel we have more than enough to win with. So the next guy has to get in there and get the job done."
The Wolves tonight play a Heat team that has completely turned around its season. After an 11-30 start, the Heat now is 33-35 and tied for the East's final playoff spot.
Stephenson reinjured an ankle he sprained significantly last month against Cleveland. He did so in Wednesday's 117-104 loss at Boston after teammate Kris Dunn fell into his legs in the fourth quarter.
He has returned to Minnesota to be re-evaluated, as has Bjelica, who is out for the season because of a foot injury sustained in the same game. Bjelica was injured in the second quarter after he landed awkwardly while attempting a shot.
When asked if Stephenson's ankle will prevent the Wolves from signing him for the rest of the season, Thibodeau said, "We'll see. I want to see what the prognosis is first. It's premature for me to say. I like what he did. It's unfortunate that he has been hurt twice now and we're down people. We have to look at everything right now."
And that includes signing another player for the season's final month and last 15 games, with Stephenson's slot as long as Nikola Pekovic continues to occupy a roster spot.
"We're just looking at where we are and who's available," Thibodeau said. "With Pek being out, too, you're down roster spots. You want to be sure you have enough bodies just so you're able to practice and handle foul trouble and things like that."
Bjelica's season ends just when he was playing and producing a lot, both in terms of minutes as well as rebounds and scoring off the bench. He also was finding a certain chemistry with teammates, including point guard Ricky Rubio.
"Well, it's tough," Rubio said. "He was playing great basketball. He was helping us a lot. He was one fo the keys of our turnaround. We're going to miss him."