The Timberwolves moved within one more move of finalizing their 15-roster for next week’s season opener, waiving veteran forward Othyus Jeffers and rookie guard Lorenzo Brown on Friday.
That leaves three players — rookie forward Robbie Hummel, veteran guard A.J. Price and big man Chris Johnson — for two final spots.
Johnson played only nine-plus minutes in two of the Wolves’ seven preseason games, an indication he is not part of coach Rick Adelman’s plans for a team that spent nearly $120 million last summer to add or keep players around stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.
But Johnson is guaranteed a $916,000 contract for next season, a deal made by former president of basketball operations David Kahn in one of his final decisions before he was replaced by Flip Saunders after last season.
The Wolves will have to waive Johnson and pay him if they intend to keep both Hummel and Price, unless they make a trade or another transaction before the Monday-afternoon deadline to submit their final roster to the NBA office.
Hummel, 24, has impressed Adelman with his shooting, his ability to play both forward positions and a court sense that Adelman says usually places him in the right positions.
Adelman experimented with his team’s starting small-forward job in the past week, starting three different players, including former Purdue star Hummel, in three games looking for what he called the right “fit” with the other four starters.
After Hummel started, played 30-plus minutes and went 1-for-9 from the field in Wednesday’s victory at Philadelphia, Adelman said, “I don’t worry about him not shooting the ball. He does all the other little things on the court. He’s always in the right spot defensively. … He just fits right in with the team he’s on, whether it’s the first group or the second group.”
Price, 27, has played four NBA seasons with Indiana and Washington, spending last season with the Wizards and new Wolves General Manager Milt Newton there. He’d give the Wolves another point guard behind Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea and combo guard Alexey Shved.
Jeffers, 28, played 16 games with Washington in the 2010-11 season, when Saunders coached the Wizards and received a long look during preseason because of his defensive toughness and versatility to play both shooting guard and small forward.
The Wolves drafted Brown, a 6-5 point guard from North Carolina State, late in the second round last summer. He, Hummel and Jeffers all played for the Wolves’ Las Vegas summer-league team. By waiving him Friday, the Wolves lose all draft rights to him.