As we all know, we’re living in a post-lockout NBA world where teams are playing six games in seven nights, back-to-back-to-backs and sometimes even Jerry Stackhouse or Eddy Curry. It’s been wild, and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed a lot of little injuries piling up here and there. Pulled hammies, turf toes, sore knees — things that probably wouldn’t happen if teams had a little chill time.
One of the teams that’s been hit the worst is the Timberwolves, who have six players listed on their official injury report. Doing the math, 15 players on a roster with six injured leaves just nine healthy bodies. That’s not enough for a five-on-five practice and that’s why they’ve had to conscript an assistant coach in order to run scrimmages. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Those not practicing [for the Timberwolves] today: Luke Ridnour, who has a sore knee; Darko Milicic (hip); Brad Miller (knee), Wes Johnson (sick) and Anthony Tolliver (wrist).
Coach Rick Adelman said player development coach Shawn Respert had to step into some drills so the Wolves would have 10 players.
This is exactly why you keep an ex-NBA player on your coaching staff, just in case you have to sneak him in to practice. Sure, it’s also nice to have one around to help with player development since retired players are good at relating to current players, but the main thing is to always have an extra body around so the head coach doesn’t have to play. We all remember what happened to Nate McMillan a couple years ago when the Blazers needed another player for practice. Smart move by Rick Adelman.
How much fun is that for Shawn Respert? After a career that was cut short by stomach cancer that he didn’t tell anybody about, it probably felt awesome for him to be playing against NBA players again. He was probably volunteering to suit up once he realized the team wouldn’t have enough guys for a full scrimmage.
Plus, Respert was an undersized shooting guard back in the day. Depending on how he did at practice, it’s not hard to see David Kahn offering him a veteran’s minimum contract, just out of instinct. It’s been a while since he’s signed a guard, so I’m sure he’s itching to add another little guy.