MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With only nine healthy players on the roster and six of their top seven out because of injuries, the Minnesota Timberwolves were in search of any warm body to help lighten the load for the few players still able to hit the court.
They turned to a player many Wolves fans thought they should have drafted almost a decade ago.
The Wolves agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent forward Josh Howard on Thursday, pending a passed physical. Howard arrived in the Twin Cities on Thursday afternoon and the plan was for him to be in uniform against Golden State on Friday night.
"We need somebody at that spot," coach Rick Adelman said. "We looked around and he seemed to be a good candidate."
The 32-year-old Howard worked out for the Wolves on Monday in Dallas. Howard averaged 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 43 games with Utah last season. He has also played for Washington and Dallas, which drafted him 29th overall in 2003. The Timberwolves passed on Howard, who was a star at Wake Forest, in favor of high schooler Ndudi Ebi, who was a bust.
Howard went on to make an All-Star team in his seven seasons with the Mavericks, emerging as a potent scorer and athletic defender. He has dealt with numerous injuries in recent seasons, but the Wolves are hoping he can take some of the minutes from Andrei Kirilenko, who has played 44 minutes in each of the last two games.
"He's a versatile player. He's long. He's a good defender," Adelman said. "He should fit in and help us."
At this point, any forward will be welcome. All-Star forward Kevin Love (broken right hand) and dynamic point guard Ricky Rubio (left knee) aren't expected to make their season debuts until December. The Wolves also lost valuable swingman Chase Budinger for three to four months because of a torn meniscus in his left knee, have seen Brandon Roy's chronic knee issues return to keep him out of the last three games and also have been missing Nikola Pekovic (sprained left ankle) and JJ Barea (sprained left foot).