Saturday was the one-year anniversary of the trade that brought D'Angelo Russell to the Timberwolves.

It's both amazing that it has already been a year, and the fact that circumstances have conspired to prevent the franchise from really knowing that they have with the pair of Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns.

COVID-19 concerns ended last season early, and have kept Towns out of the lineup of late. Add in injuries.

The bottom line is that Towns and Russell have only played in the same game five times since that trade. Saturday, in the back end of back-to-back games at Oklahoma City, both players were out, Russell because of a flareup of soreness in his right quad.

Five times together, in one year.

"Yeah, when you take a step back and you see it from a large lens, it can be frustrating," coach Ryan Saunders said.

Saunders said the day-to-day process of working with the team prevents him from dwelling on who is and isn't available. Indeed, he said, many of the rotations he is looking at now, the process the team is going through is designed so the team is ready when both Towns and Russell are healthy.

"There's a reason for everything right now," Saunders said. "And that's so that we can help speed up the process when a guy like KAT gets back and those two are playing together, because of hos playes compliment them is important."

Big shots

Back in his rookie season, Russell missed a winning shot for the Lakers when Los Angeles fell to the Wolves 123-122 on Dec. 9, 2015. After that game, then-teammate Kobe Bryant offered Russell some words of advice about those situations.

When asked about that moment following his winning shot Friday, Russell recalled that moment like it happened not too long ago. Russell said Bryant told him his future was bright and there would be other winning moment sin his career.

"I heard him say that one time, my head was through the sky," Russell said.

"So all I had to do was hear that, it gave me the confidence to take and make more shots and always believe I could make any shot I'm taking. That's a great guy to hear that from, and I just kept running with it."


• Hoping a change of perspective might help Josh Okogie get back in rhythm, Saunders started Jarred Vanderbilt alongside Naz Reid in the frontcourt Saturday, with Okogie coming off the bench. But Okogie only played 8:47, didn't score and was a team-worst minus-10.

• Saunders said Russell did not necessarily re-injury his right quad in Friday's game. But there was enough pain to keep him out of the lineup. "It's an active injury,'' Saunders said. "He had soreness after the game, and it was still there [Saturday] morning.''

Staff writer Chris Hine contributed to this report.