The Timberwolves’ 15-man roster is set. Veteran guard J.J. Barea isn’t on it, but rookie forward Glenn Robinson III is.
It was a decision, Wolves President of Basketball Operations and coach Flip Saunders said, that came down to the direction the team had decided to take — to develop a young roster. And so the team negotiated a buyout for Barea, who was due about $4.5 million on the final year of his contract, then waived him.
The decision to go with youth, combined with the offseason signing of Mo Williams, meant that Barea wasn’t going to get the regular minutes he wanted.
“And we also felt that Glenn Robinson has a chance to be a very good player in this league,” Saunders said after Monday’s practice. “And so what happens is you make a decision as an organization to go in a direction. Now we have six players with two or less years’ experience. You either have to be committed to that or not.”
That means Ricky Rubio and Williams are the top two point guards, with rookie Zach LaVine — who is still climbing a steep learning curve — as the No. 3. Saunders said he didn’t expect to need a third point guard often, but said LaVine would be ready if needed.
“As we get into it, we simplify game plans as we go in,” Saunders said. ‘‘So it will be easier for Zach to play in those situations as we move forward.”
Barea, meanwhile, will be free to sign with another team once he clears waivers. He is reportedly interested in signing with Dallas, the team he broke into the league with in 2006. In three seasons with the Wolves, Barea averaged 10.1 points and 4.1 assists in 21.7 minutes per game.
“J.J. has been a consummate pro,” Saunders said. “I thought he had a very good training camp for us, played really well in the preseason. He’s done everything we asked him to do, so we wish him well moving forward.”
Saunders said he would not be looking at the waiver wire for potential last-minute additions to the team.
“We’re moving forward with who we have,” he said.
Setting the rotation
The team’s roster is set, but it sounds like Saunders’ rotation might not be.
Before practice Saunders gave every player a piece of paper and a pencil. He asked them not to write their name on the paper, but to put down how many minutes they felt they deserved each game. Then he added it up.
“We had 380 minutes,” Saunders said. “The game is only 240 minutes [48 minutes, five players]. So I told ’em I had to figure out a way to cut 140 minutes.”
Saunders always has preferred to give significant minutes to an eight-man rotation, with the ninth and 10th players fighting for minutes and the rest of the roster fighting to move up the ladder. But that could change after a successful preseason in which several players performed well.
“With the success we had in the preseason, was that because of how we played or who we played or a combination?” he asked. “Because we had 10, 11 guys play well on many nights. We might end up playing that way a lot, and having almost a platoon-type situation.”
• Both Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad responded well to Sunday’s hard practice and both were full-go Monday. Indeed, Saunders said all 15 players on the roster were healthy. “Nobody was held back today,” he said.