The Wolves this morning signed free-agent small forward Josh Howard to a one-year, veteran's minimum contract and waived guard Will Conroy to make room for him.

Howard still must pass a physical examination to complete the make room for the nine-year NBA vet whom the Wolves bypassed in the 2003 draft so they could take the now infamous Ndudi Ebi.

The move, of course, addresses the Wolves' injury woes and is intended to reduce Andrei Kirilenko's load at small forward.

The Wolves have no true backup there since Chase Budinger injured his knee Saturday and is now out at least three months following surgery.

Kirilenko played 44 minutes each of the last two games and given his own injury history, you don't want to roll the dice testing his body like that every night.

Can you see a theme here in the Wolves collecting Kirilenko, Brandon Roy and now Howard, all proven, smart, injury-prone high-level players in their prime whom the Wolves now are hoping they can squeeze the last bits of basketball out of once they surround them with a core of Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic.

Here's the scoop on Howard from someone who watched him all last season play a similar role with the Jazz that he will be asked to fulfill here:

Great veteran fit, quiet, funny, good in the locker room and smart player with high basketball IQ, injury prone last three or four years, good passer, not selfish, not a great ball handler but a scorer with NBA skills and mentality, can be a bit of a ball stopper simply because you get the ball for 24 seconds and he knows he can score but not a black hole by any means, only a problem is he's not healthy or not motivated and he appears to be neither of those right now.

Howard did injure his knee with Utah last March and underwent surgery to repair cartilage but returned to play in the playoffs and started the first three games when the Jazz was swept in the first round by San Antonio.

Here's a YouTube video from one of his workouts last month intended, I presume, to prove to NBA teams he's healthy and ready to play.

Howard played a similar veteran's role mostly off the bench with the Jazz last season, playing 43 games and averaging 8.7 points and 23 minutes.


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