The Timberwolves had played 613 games between the trade of Kevin Garnett in the summer of 2007 and his return to the lineup on Wednesday night. There is no need for a disclaimer between regular-season and playoff games, since there has been none of the latter -- not post-Garnett, and not for KG’s last three seasons in Minnesota.
The Timberwolves had used 144 distinctive starting lineups during Garnett’s 7 ½-season absence … distinctive in the sense that the lineups were unique within the confines of a single season.
That means the Wolves had varied lineups in 23.5 percent of the games they played since Garnett's departure. According to my accounting, they also have had 65 different starters in those 7 ½ seasons.
It goes like this:
2007-08 (22 wins, 60 losses). There were 26 starting lineups and 15 players who started games: Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, Rashad McCants, Greg Buckner, Marko Jaric, Corey Brewer, Antoine Walker, Mark Madsen, Michael Doleac, Craig Smith, Chris Richard, Kirk Snyder.
2008-09 (24-58). There were 26 starting lineups and 15 starters: Gomes, Jefferson, Brewer, Foye, Telfair, Smith, Madsen, McCants, Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Jason Collins, Kevin Ollie, Rodney Carney, Brian Cardinal, Bobby Brown.
2009-10 (15-67). There were 11 starting lineups and 12 starters: Love, Gomes, Jefferson, Brewer, Jonny Flynn, Darko Milicic, Wayne Ellington, Ramon Sessions, Damien Wilkins, Oleksey Pecherov, Ryan Hollins, Nate Jawai.
2010-11 (17-65). There were 17 starting lineups and 14 starters: Love, Milicic, Brewer, Telfair, Flynn, Michael Beasley, Luke Ridnour, Wayne Ellington, Wes Johnson, Kosta Koufos, Nikola Pekovic, Martell Webster, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Tolliver.
2011-12 (26-40). There were 15 starting lineups (in 66 games) and 13 starters: Beasley, Love, Milicic, Ridnour, Johnson, Ellington, Pekovic, Webster, Randolph, Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams, Brad Miller, J.J. Barea.
2012-13 (31-51). There were 16 starting lineups and 15 starters: Love, Williams, Pekovic, Ridnour, Rubio, Barea, Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger, Malcolm Lee, Gregg Stiemsma, Josh Howard, Alexey Shved, Dante Cunningham, Michael Gelabale.
2013-14 (40-42). There were 13 starting lineups and 13 starters: Love, Rubio, Budinger, Cunningham, Barea, Pekovic, Budinger, Corey Brewer (returned to team), Kevin Martin, Robbie Hummel, Luc Mbah a Moute, Rony Turiaf, Gorgui Dieng.
2014-15 (12-43). There had been 20 starting lineups and 15 starters: Pekovic, Rubio, Brewer, Martin, Dieng, Hummel, Budinger, Andrew Wiggins, Thad Young, Zach LaVine, Mo Williams, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett, Lorenzo Brown, Adreian Payne.
WARNING: Lists are always dangerous. Don’t sue if there’s a small discrepancy.
The point is, lineup chaos has been the trademark for the Timberwolves in the post-Garnett era, and that never has been truer than through the first two-thirds of this season.
Maybe Flip Saunders has a plan for reducing the roster zaniness, although Garnett at 38 and in his 20th season can’t exactly be considered evidence of that.