Othyus Jeffers is back where his season started, with the Timberwolves and yet another opportunity to prove he deserves to stay in the NBA.
He has been here before, six times now and counting.
He is 28 and has bounced back and forth from the D League to the NBA and back again, from the minor league Iowa Energy to Utah, San Antonio, Washington, Phoenix and now the Wolves in the NBA.
This time, he is back in Minnesota after he spent training camp and October’s preseason with the Wolves before he became their last cut before the season opener.
He is here because the Wolves are hurting, down five injured players in Wednesday’s 102-87 loss to Chicago, with just four games left to go.
He was signed Tuesday for the rest of the season — the final nine days — because the Wolves were down to just nine healthy bodies for Saturday’s loss at Orlando and because of his October experience with the team and his history with President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders when both were in Washington.
“The organization knows what I can do,” Jeffers said. “I’m here to lend a helping hand, play defense, let the organization know what more I can bring to the table.”
He is here to prove, too, that he deserves to be invited back for summer-league play and another look at training camp next fall after he returned to Iowa for most of this season and dominated the D League at times. He averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds in 44 games.
Jeffers signed a 10-day contract with the Spurs in January and played four games with them before he returned to Des Moines.
“We know who he is,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. “We know he’s going to play hard. That’s one thing he’s going to do, and he’s going to defend. It’s just a bonus we had him for all training camp. If someone on the other team gets going ... he’s someone you can throw out there because he’ll compete. We were looking for someone who’d add depth and who we knew.”
Jeffers played 93 seconds in Tuesday’s thumping of the Spurs and 11½ minutes in Wednesday’s blowout loss to the Bulls.
Somebody asked him if, after continuing to put up big numbers in the D League, he is frustrated that he hasn’t returned to the NBA to stay yet.
“I’m past that phase,” said Jeffers, who is Chicago born, bred and educated. “I’m 28 now. When I was younger, I went through it a lot. I love every opportunity I have. I’m blessed. I’m humble and I’m glad to be a part of the Timberwolves.”
And he said he’s comfortable to be back with a team with which he has some history.
“My emotions are calm, it feels like preseason again,” Jeffers said. “I’ve always been in the position where I have to prove myself, but I always know my job and that’s to help the team the best way I know how and that’s with defense.”