SALT LAKE CITY – Jordan Bell came to the Timberwolves in part because he wanted another chance to prove himself in the NBA.
Those plans have gotten off to a slow start for Bell, who has dealt with a pair of injuries — first a calf injury, then a shoulder sprain — since training camp.
But now he is off the injury report, and the Wolves have tried to boost Bell’s spirits since he had to go on the mend so early in the season.
“Jordan has had some things happen that are out of his control, and we care about Jordan as the person,” coach Ryan Saunders said. “We talk about that a lot. We care about his health, too. He’s doing everything to work himself back into the fold.”
Bell played a few minutes late Friday and Saturday against Washington and Houston. He was off the injury report for Monday’s game but did not play in the 112-102 victory over Utah.
The Wolves like Bell’s defensive versatility, and just given the rigors of the NBA season, he is likely to find himself back in the rotation at some point. Bell declined an interview request after shootaround Monday.
“We haven’t had a ton of practice time, too, so we look forward to, in a couple days, being able to have some practice where we can be competitive and that can help him,” Saunders said. “The type of person he is, he’s not wavering. He still has the same positive attitude, and he’s been a big part of our group.”
Noah Vonleh signed with the Wolves in the offseason for the some of the same reasons as Bell — the opportunity to play. Vonleh’s minutes are down from what he played with New York last season — 25.3 to 13 — as he and Gorgui Dieng fight for minutes off the bench backing up or sometimes playing alongside Karl-Anthony Towns.
“Obviously I want to play more, but it’s an adjustment,” Vonleh said after a recent practice. “I was used to playing a lot of minutes last year, and coming here and having to adjust to playing more limited minutes, I’m a selfless person. I just try to approach it as professional basketball players. Whatever situation is given to us, we’ve got to handle it and deal with it.”
Saunders said he applauded both Vonleh and Dieng for handling their minutes split like professionals.
“They’re, in a lot of ways, a better man than I’d like to think I would be in certain situations — because they’re both very deserving,” Saunders said. “They both work hard, and they both come in with a great attitude. But they both genuinely like each other, and they want what’s best for this team, which is just a huge credit, not to just them as athletes, but them as people.”
Andrew Wiggins, who missed the Wolves’ previous two games after the death of his grandmother, missed Monday’s game because of an illness, but the Wolves did get some good news on the injury front. Josh Okogie played after missing Saturday’s game because of left knee soreness, scoring 11 points. Shabazz Napier missed his eighth consecutive game because of a hamstring strain.