MIAMI – Ready to move on this final month without injured Nemanja Bjelica and quite possibly recently signed Lance Stephenson as well, Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau vowed Friday the team still can win the Western Conference's final playoff spot.
But that doesn't mean the team won't add a healthy body, either.
"We feel we have more than enough to win with," Thibodeau said before Friday's 123-105 loss to the Miami Heat. "So the next guy has to get in there and get the job done."
Bjelica is done for the season because of a foot injury suffered Wednesday in Boston. Stephenson returned with Bjelica to Minnesota on Friday for evaluation after he reinjured an ankle he sprained a month ago.
His second 10-day contract expires Saturday. Stephenson's signing for the rest of the season depends on swelling and how much time he'll miss this time.
"I want to see what the prognosis is first," Thibodeau said. "It's premature for me to say. I like what he did. It's unfortunate he has been hurt twice now and we're down people. We have to look at everything right now."
That includes possibly signing a new player to a 10-day contract for a team that's now down Zach LaVine, Bjelica and Stephenson while perpetually injured Nikola Pekovic still occupies a roster spot.
"Just looking at where we are and who's available — and with Pek being out, too — you're down roster spots," Thibodeau said. "You want to be sure you have enough bodies just to practice and handle foul trouble."
Thibodeau said he'll consider all options to fill Bjelica's missing minutes. That could include playing Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad and Cole Aldrich more or he could turn to little-used or never-used Adreian Payne or Jordan Hill. Aldrich and Muhammad were the first subs into Friday's game.
"Payne, Cole, Jordan, you need everybody," Thibodeau said. "We have the ability to play big, we have the ability to play small. When Zach went down, we were faced with the same thing. Other guys had to step up."
Bjelica's injury — sustained when he landed awkwardly after driving toward the basket — came just when he and the Wolves were starting to thrive.
"It's a tough deal," Thibodeau said. "The last six weeks or so he has played great for us. You hate to see anyone get injured, but you really hate to see it because of the way he was playing and his contributions to winning. He gained a lot of confidence and we gained a lot of confidence in him."
Finding his way …
The 2015 Euroleague MVP, Bjelica particularly seemed to be building chemistry with point guard Ricky Rubio when they were on the floor together.
"Coming from Europe where a lot of the time the ball was in his hands and then coming here and changing his game," Rubio said. "I think he was finding his own and becoming the player that everybody was expecting."
• Wolves TV analyst Jim Petersen's long weekend working and also watching stepson Sanjay Lumpkin play for Northwestern in the NCAA tournament: Boston to Salt Lake City to Miami and back again to Salt Lake City for Saturday's second-round game. Kevin Lynch will work the Wolves' game Sunday at New Orleans.