The Wolves’ injury situation got a little better with the return of Kevin Martin on Wednesday. But it’s still bad enough that Wolves coach Flip Saunders knows that recently signed guard Lorenzo Brown is going to get significant playing time.
Ricky Rubio is still at least a week away from returning, and veteran Mo Williams missed Wednesday’s game against Boston for personal reasons, though a sore hip could have sidelined him anyway.
So, welcome back, Mr. Brown, who was signed to a 10-day contract.
“It feels good to be back,” said Brown, who had 11 points and three assists against the Celtics.
Brown was drafted by the Wolves in the second round last year. He had a good camp but was beaten out for the final roster spot by Robbie Hummel and ended up playing 26 games for Philadelphia. This season, playing for the Grand Rapids Drive in the D-League, he was averaging 16.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Saunders said Brown was the best point guard at the recently concluded D-League Showcase.
At this point, given the Wolves’ position, Saunders said one priority is taking a look at young talent.
“This is an opportunity,” he said of Brown. “He’ll get an opportunity and hopefully he’ll take advantage.’’
Brown arrived Tuesday evening and dived right into the playbook, trying to absorb all he could.
The Wolves released center Miroslav Raduljica to make room on the roster for Brown.
It is a testament to the extent of the Wolves’ youth movement that the team will have a league-record four players involved in the Rising Stars Challenge game over All-Star Weekend.
The league named rookies Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine to the U.S. team and second-year players Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad to the world team.
“I’m excited for it,” said Wiggins, who is leading all rookies in scoring (15.1) and is third in steals (1.09).
LaVine is averaging 8.2 points, Dieng has 12 double-doubles, and Muhammad is leading all eligible U.S. players in points per 48 minutes played (28.8). The game will be played Feb. 13 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“It says a lot for where we’re going,” Saunders said. “What you hope it does is get them thirsty. You hope they want to keep on going back to something like this.’’
Throwing it down
LaVine also will compete in the slam dunk competition, with some already pegging him as the favorite to win.
“It’s a dream,” he said. “As a young kid, watching Michael Jordan and Kobe [Bryant] and Vince Carter? Being in the dunk contest — especially it being my first year — it’s going to be crazy.’’
LaVine — who jokingly lamented that a half-season of playing has lowered his vertical leap from 45 to 40 inches — has been giving this a lot of thought. Favoring the old school, he said he’s against using props. Known for his between-the-legs dunk and for a nice windmill, he said he has some ideas up his sleeve. “The main thing is to make your dunks,” he said. “But you also want to do something nobody has seen before.’’
Dieng has his money on his teammate. “I always tell people that [Wiggins] jumps higher, but Zach is a better dunker,” Dieng said.
Maybe next year
Wiggins had an opportunity to be in the dunk contest but turned it down. LaVine, who said Wiggins was a little shy, said he hoped the two of them can compete in one together in the future.
Why isn’t Wiggins taking part? “It was a thought,” he said. “I just didn’t really want to do it this year.”
• Martin, who ran all the steps at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City with Wolves assistant Ryan Saunders last week: “First time in my life. Probably my last time. A workout like that would make you want to come back soon.’’