Practice Report: Friday, Jan. 18, 2013

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn said the team has been granted a hardship exception from the NBA because of their injury situation, and the team will likely use it to bolster their roster as they continue to adapt to their latest injuries.

Wolves center Nikola Pekovic will likely miss 7-10 days with a right quad contusion, and guard Alexey Shved is day-to-day with a sprained left ankle. Kahn said the hardship exception will likely allow for another 10-day contract to be signed, and he said given the thin nature of both the front and back courts Minnesota is open to any number of options.

“I still think we need now with Lazar [Hayward] now departed [after his 10-day contract ended on Thursday], we need someone who can ideally play 2-3,” Kahn said. “And with Pek’s situation, now he may be out 7-10 days according to [athletic trainer] Gregg Farnam, so we’re a little too thing up there as well.”

After Pekovic and Shved left last night’s contest, Minnesota had eight healthy players available—prompting forward Derrick Williams to joke there was a lot of room to spread out on the bench. Kahn said one of the options is Mickael Gelabale, who has been playing in Spain, but the team has not received FIBA clearance to discuss terms.

Whichever moves the Timberwolves decide to make to their roster, Kahn said it needs to make sense with their long-term plans.

“It has to be sensible for the future,” Kahn said.

On the court, Wolves interim coach Terry Porter said the team didn’t do a ton of physical activity on Friday due in part to not having enough players to fulfill 5-on-5 responsibilities and also to save legs in preparation for Saturday’s game.

That will be a delicate balancing act moving forward, as the Wolves don’t want to put their players in position where they wear out on non-game days. But they also need time to develop and learn how to rotate and play with one another.

“You don’t get into a rhythm and a timing when you talk about not having enough guys to get up and down,” Porter said. “A lot of it is on half court correction, defensive and offensive breakdowns we had the previous night. We haven’t done it yet, maybe some times showing film, but we haven’t done that yet. The most important thing is walking through the breakdowns, doing half court execution in different lineups.”

One primary concern in half court execution with different personnel is how the Wolves will attack without Pekovic, presumably inserting Greg Stiemsma into his role. Stiemsma was signed more for his defensive prowess and blocking ability, and his offensive game is much different. Instead of Pekovic using his bruising presence in the low post, Stiemsma is more of a pick-and-pop player.

“It changes things offensively,” Porter said.

Meanwhile, guard J.J. Barea said simply maintaining the health of the players they currently have is an important part of practicing for the time being.

“It’s a concern—you don’t want to go and practice and hurt somebody else,” Barea said. “It’s tough for the coaches, too, but I think they’re doing a good job of keeping us ready. And we’ve got enough talent still to win games. We’ve just got to stay ready and come out and try to steal a couple games.”

Quick Hits

  • Kahn said Brandon Roy is continuing his rehab, and he has recently had a “positive” doctor’s visit. He didn’t have a timetable to expect Roy back, particularly in the next couple weeks, but he said he thinks there is an opportunity for him to return at some point.

  • Wolves forward Kevin Love, who underwent surgery on his broken right hand on Tuesday, has remained in New York in the short term. He is expected to return to Minnesota shortly thereafter and will do his rehabilitation here at that point.

  • Kahn pointed out the Wolves are still one game back in the loss column in regard to the eighth spot in the West. He said there are still 46 games to play, and the focus is ending this five-game losing streak and starting one in the wins column. “We’ve had a very difficult run of bad luck,” Kahn said. “Still, in the circle of players who are available, there is a lot of talent.”

  • Kahn said he doesn’t expect coach Rick Adelman to be returning to the sidelines in the near term. No timetable for Adelman, who has missed the last six games to be with his wife, who is in the hospital.

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