Wanting more roster flexibility, and with a league deadline looming, the Timberwolves waived backup guard John Lucas III before Saturday’s home game vs. Utah.
“It was a tough decision to let him go,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s the consummate pro. He comes in, works hard, stays ready, knows how to prepare. I think he adds a lot to the team.”
All veteran contracts become guaranteed early next week. That plus the fact the Wolves were looking to be set for any potential upgrades to their roster prompted the move.
Signed Aug. 24, Lucas, who played for Thibodeau when both were with Chicago, appeared in only five games, averaging 2.2 minutes and 0.4 assists.
The Wolves now have 14 players on their roster. And Thibodeau said the team wouldn’t necessarily feel the need to fill it right away. The team already is carrying Nikola Pekovic on the roster, even though the injured center won’t play this season. Carrying four point guards was a luxury.
“With the situation we’re in with Pek, it made the most sense for us, moving forward, to create flexibility,” Thibodeau said. “If something does pop up we feel can make us better, we have that flexibility.”
The team could opt to use 10-day contracts to take a look at players. Wolves General Manager Scott Layden and the scouting staff have been monitoring the Development League, leagues overseas and the status of players not currently playing.
“You have some players that are out that are recovering from injuries who are getting closer,” Thibodeau said. “It opens that door as well. We’ll take a look at who’s available and what opportunities we might have.”
Opportunity and honor
A day after Brandon Rush played in his first game since Dec. 11, it was announced that Kansas would retire Rush’s No. 25 jersey at a halftime ceremony Feb. 22.
“It’s a blessing,” said Rush, who was a two-time Wooden All-America with the Jayhawks and was a part of their 2008 national championship team. “I mean, I have no words for that.”
So it’s been a good couple of days for Rush, who signed as a free agent with the Wolves July 8.
To this point, Rush — whose minutes at Washington on Friday came after Shabazz Muhammad was scratched because of an illness — has had a difficult season.
He dealt with a pesky toe injury early in the season. After that, he had trouble breaking Thibodeau’s rotation.
Friday, he played nearly 20 minutes, hit all four of his shots — including two three-pointers — and scored 10 points.
“I felt good, my wind was there,” Rush said. “I was able to knock down some shots. It stinks we didn’t get the win. We needed it.”
And, while he hopes his performance will mean more minutes down the road, Rush said he hasn’t been discouraged with his playing time so far this season. “I know what happens,” he said. “The toe injury set me back a little bit, and Bazz is playing well. It’s hard to break that rotation.”
As for the upcoming honor?
“I’m a little nervous about the speech I have to give, in front of 17,000 people,” said Rush, who grew up in Kansas City. “But my family will be there, so it’s a blessing to have that opportunity.”
The 22-15 record Utah took into Saturday’s game is even more impressive considering the injuries the team has played through. Saturday marked the first time all year Jazz coach Quin Snyder had to make a healthy player inactive for a game.