Just as he was very late Tuesday night, Flip Saunders claimed he was awake until the wee hours before Friday’s game against San Antonio. Only this time, he was doing more than just trying to calculate how his team might reach 80 points in a game.
The Timberwolves president and coach worked the phones as dawn approached, talking with agents and searching for a player who might help replace Kevin Martin, who joined an injured list that includes Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Ronny Turiaf. A magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed the veteran guard broke his right shooting wrist early in Wednesday’s victory over New York.
Martin will be examined again in the coming days to see if surgery will be performed. The Wolves termed him out indefinitely, but the absence likely will be at least six weeks.
The Wolves can petition the NBA for a roster exception so they could sign a player without having to waive one, but to do so they would have make three players inactive for the next 10 days. Martin and Rubio are certainties for that, but Saunders wants to wait and see if Pekovic or Turiaf will be ready to play before that.
“I don’t think there’s anybody as good as Pekovic out there right now,” Saunders said. “Guys who aren’t playing in our league, there’s probably a reason.”
Saunders said the team is talking to agents and looking through Development League prospects for potential help.
“We’re going to have to wait and see if we can bring somebody in who we think is going to be serviceable and can help,” he said.
Against the NBA champion Spurs, Saunders started Corey Brewer in Martin’s place, alongside fellow veteran Mo Williams and youngsters Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad. Forward Thaddeus Young also was missing because of the death of his mother.
“My team might have been older in junior college at Golden Valley,” Saunders said, referring to his first coaching job in the 1970s.
Martin was injured after getting fouled and knocked down by Shane Larkin while shooting a three-pointer midway through Wednesday’s first quarter, but he played on and scored 37 points anyway.
It was strangely similar to a November 2009 game with Sacramento, when Martin scored 48 points during a game he fractured his left non-shooting hand. He scored 29 points the next game before the injury was diagnosed. He missed more than two months after undergoing surgery.
“Maybe the key is he should play with a broken hand,” Saunders said.
The best-laid plans
After Rubio was injured Nov. 7, both Saunders and Williams said they wanted to keep Williams’ minutes right around 25 a night because he is the team’s oldest player at age 31.
That plan might be nothing but a memory now.
“That’s on Flip,” said Williams, who started Friday for the second consecutive game after he played 32-plus minutes Wednesday against the Knicks. “I’ve logged heavy minutes in my career. It’s not a big deal. I’ll get through it. That’s up to Flip. He has his idea of minutes and I’ll be ready to go. It’s on me to be prepared.”
Nothing to see here …
The Spurs arrived with former WNBA star Becky Hammon as an official member of their coaching staff. The Rapid City, S.D., native is the first female assistant in the history of the four major North American men’s pro sports leagues.
When asked about the “unique” situation of having a female coach, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said: “It’s women instead of men, but it’s the same game. Becky knows what to do on a pick-and-roll just as much as Tony Parker does. So I don’t think it’s unique at all. It’s unique to the public that there’s a woman who’s assisting on the men’s team, I guess. That might be unique because it doesn’t happen very often. But her knowledge and ability to lead and teach is the same as a guy. There’s no difference.”
• San Antonio played without Tiago Splitter (calf), Matt Bonner (virus) and Patty Mills (shoulder surgery).