Allen Crabbe had no indication a trade was coming. No rumors, no hunches. He first heard about the deal that brought him to Minnesota when someone pulled him aside at a Hawks practice and told him to get ready to move.
“I was taken aback,” Crabbe said Monday, before he made his Timberwolves debut in a game against Denver. “I didn’t hear anything leading up to this. … It definitely was a shock to me, but it’s not my first time being traded. It’s the business side. The only thing you got to try to do is pack up, get to your new team, get implemented and show up and go to work.”
There was a slight delay in Crabbe showing up to work — he had food poisoning that kept him from playing Saturday — but he was in the lineup and on the floor for the first time vs. the Nuggets.
The Wolves want to see how Crabbe will fit in their three-point-heavy system. He is a career 38% shooter on three-pointers and is in the final year of his contract. He has half a season to see if he can fit with the Wolves beyond this year. Crabbe likes his chances of that.
“I mean, it’s a match made in heaven,” he said. “They like to shoot threes, I love to shoot threes. So I can’t ask for anything better than that.”
This season has been one of Crabbe’s most difficult, with a knee injury costing him some time in Atlanta, and he was averaging only 18.6 minutes per game when he did play. That’s well under what he averaged with Portland and Brooklyn, where he had his best years playing under Wolves associate head coach David Vanterpool with the Blazers and assistant Pablo Prigioni with the Nets.
“They had very similar sets to what they run over here,” Crabbe said. “I got in [Sunday], did a little workout with Pablo to get some of the concepts down on the offensive side. At the end of the day, it’s basketball. We all go out there and do the same thing, run our sets, execute the game plan. I feel like I can put myself in a good situation.”
Saunders said Crabbe, 27, will also add a veteran presence to a young team. It’s up to him and the staff to make Crabbe feel welcome. Some familiar faces, like the assistants and former teammates Jake Layman and Shabazz Napier, can help with that.
“You let him feel his way out first,” Saunders said. “You want to make sure you have a number of conversations with him and make sure he is comfortable. He’s got some former teammates on this team too that can help ease that transition. But a lot of times when there’s a change, guys’ heads can be spinning when they’re coming into a new situation.
“So what we’re trying to do is make sure he’s comfortable within the offense, the defense and just within the team setting.”
Saunders said the minutes Towns played in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday was part easing him back into playing and the fact that the Wolves played on consecutive nights. Towns played 28 minutes Friday at Indiana and 27 Saturday vs. Toronto.
“Karl looks good to me …” Saunders said. “He’s worked really hard and done a lot of things and just because people haven’t seen him on the court doesn’t mean he’s not working. He did a lot of things to keep himself in shape and be ready for his return.”
Denver came in missing three key contributors: Jamal Murray (ankle), Gary Harris (right adductor strain) and Paul Millsap (left knee contusion). Combined they are averaging 40.5 points.