SALT LAKE CITY – T.J. Warren made a promise to himself as he was working to get back on an NBA roster this season: He wouldn't step on an airplane again until it was a team airplane.

No vacations that required air travel, just working in his home of Raleigh, N.C., to find a way back.

"It was like a little deal to myself," Warren said. "I'm not getting on a plane unless it was a team plane."

So when the Timberwolves wanted him to sign a 10-day contract, Warren packed up his car and drove from Raleigh to Minneapolis in a trip that would take about 19 hours, per Google Maps, if done in one shot — while obeying speed limits.

Then he boarded a team plane as the Wolves embarked on a six-game road trip through Indiana, Cleveland, Los Angeles and now Utah.

Warren has hardly been a bench filler as his 10-day deal comes to an end, and there's a good chance a season-long deal, which includes the playoffs, awaits after another likely 10-day contract, given that he's already found a role with the Wolves. He entered the rotation right away in his first game against the Pacers and hasn't left. He's averaged 4.8 points and 16 minutes in the four games he's played since joining the team.

Even Warren can't believe how fast this has all happened.

"I ain't going to lie, just jumping right into it, it's crazy," Warren said. "Every time I'm out there, I'm like, I was just at the house, and now I'm on TNT. … I was at the house on my couch, on the computer playing video games, and now traveling. It's just like, I love it. I love it, man."

Warren, 30, was the 14th overall pick of the 2014 NBA draft out of North Carolina State and spent the first five seasons of his career with the Suns.

He had a number of productive years for the Suns and then went to Indiana, where he averaged a career-high 19.8 points per game in the 2019-20 season. He became a bit of a legend in the "bubble" portion of the schedule that year when COVID-19 forced games to be played in isolation in Florida. That's when he scored 53 in a game against the 76ers. But injury struck Warren in a big way. He had multiple foot surgeries to repair stress fractures in his left foot, and that caused him to miss all of the 2021-22 season.

He returned last season to play in 42 games with the Nets and Suns.

"It's a crazy journey since the bubble," Warren said. "I'm grateful and been embracing all the adversity and ups and downs. I feel like that's life, just going through different situations and different obstacles and being able to overcome them and just definitely just an honor to keep playing and play at the highest level and still contribute at the highest level."

The Wolves have leaned on him to contribute after Karl-Anthony Towns went out with a torn left meniscus that required surgery this week. The Wolves need all the scoring pop they can get at this moment in the season, and Warren has looked like a natural fit for the way they want to play.

"Everybody I've been out there with, they made the game so easy, and the coaching staff definitely made it easier for me too," Warren said. "It's just knowing how to play, compete and contribute to winning, and I'll be myself out there as I get comfortable."

Who knows what will happen next in Warren's NBA career? He's just trying to enjoy the ride, whether by car or by plane.

"It's been a crazy 10 years, looking back at it," Warren said. "It's been a crazy journey, man, but I wouldn't trade the journey for anything else."