MILWAUKEE — Strange as it might sound, the Timberwolves received good news Wednesday when they learned starting point guard Jeff Teague sustained a Grade 1 sprain of his knee MCL ligament very late in Wednesday’s home overtime victory over Denver and is sidelined indefinitely.
“It was about as good as you could have hoped for,” coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Good because an MRI taken Thursday morning showed no structural damage to Teague’s knee from an injury similar to one he had during his rookie season eight years ago.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry was diagnosed with the same injury during the 2016 playoffs and missed about two weeks.
Teague was injured when Denver’s Will Barton fell into leg after a jump ball with 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“He didn’t have much swelling, and he was walking around today,” Thibodeau said. “He had this injury once before, so I think he understands what he has to go through.”
Teague slapped the floor in pain while he was down on it, and his coach and teammates feared the worst: a torn ACL or something similar.
“It’s a lot better than it could have been,” teammate Jamal Crawford said. “A player knows his body, and you saw his face; you could see the pain he was in. That was scary.”
In Jimmy, they trust
With Teague out, Tyus Jones started at point guard and veteran Aaron Brooks came off the bench behind him, although Thibodeau suggested much of the offense now will run through Jimmy Butler.
Thibodeau said Jones could play off the ball when Butler handles it with the starters and Crawford could do the same with the second unit.
“Jimmy plays the point quite a bit for us; that’s probably the easiest thing,” Thibodeau said. “Jimmy and Jamal can play off each other. That’s a big plus.”
The Wolves have held their 15th and final big-league roster spot open for a situation such as Teague’s injury. But they could play with what they currently have until free agents can sign 10-day contracts starting Jan. 5.
“That’s where we have great versatility,” Thibodeau said, calling Butler in essence his team’s third point guard. “We’re always looking.”
Phoenix last week released 27-year-old rookie point guard Mike James. Former lottery pick Trey Burke is scoring big in the G League. NBA veterans Randy Foye and C.J. Watson are available as well.
Bradley Center no more
The Wolves played their final regular-season game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, which will be torn down and the land redeveloped after the Bucks’ new arena opens next season.
“There’s a lot of history in this building,” said Thibodeau, who coached at Bradley Center twice a season when he was with the Bulls. “And of course, when I was in Boston, Doc [Rivers] would always point out all the Marquette stuff. Jimmy’s not too shy about it, either.”
Rivers and Butler both played at Marquette.
Should have been
The NBA’s Two-Minute report from Wednesday’s overtime victory over Denver found officials erred when they called a foul on Wolves forward Andrew Wiggins that sent Barton to the free-throw line for the tying shots with 5.5 left in regulation time. They called Wiggins’ vertical positioning “legal guarding position.”
They erred, too, when they called Karl-Anthony Towns for his sixth foul on Barton with 1:54 left in the fourth quarter, calling it “marginal contact.”
They also determined that Butler stepped over the backcourt line and moved his pivot foot — both violations not called — before he was tied up and Teague was injured on the ensuing jump-ball play.
“What good does it do?” Thibodeau said. “The idea behind it — the transparency — was good. But the game is over and done with. It does no good. Just move on and get ready for the next one.”
• Crawford said he, too, can play point guard while Teague is out. “I got drafted as a point guard; I won a state championship in high school as a point guard, and I do it all summer long,” he said. “I’m comfortable with it; I’m just a ballplayer.”
• Thibodeau on Bucks coach Jason Kidd being nominated last week for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame: “It should be a slam dunk. To play at the level he did for as long as he did, he had a remarkable career.”
• Until he missed four games in November because of Achilles soreness and Wednesday’s injury, Teague had played 79 games or more in four of the past five seasons.