Wolves bring back Hummel with one-year, guaranteed contract

Robbie Hummel showed Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations and coach Flip Saunders enough to prove himself worthy of the franchise's 14th roster spot in 2014-15.

Timberwolves forward Robbie Hummel started five games, averaged 12.4 minutes in 53 appearances, shot 36 percent from 3-point range and averaged 13.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per 48 minutes last season.

Isaiah Downing / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- On his own, Robbie Hummel isn't the answer.

But he'll have an opportunity to become part of it.

No proposed trade for disenchanted power forward Kevin Love is going to net the Timberwolves equal return -- these forced deals involving superstars rarely do. The next step, then, once a transaction is completed, is filling in the gap piece by piece rather than with one large chunk of material.

Which is why Minnesota re-signed Hummel -- who was an unrestricted free agent -- Monday to a one-year, fully guaranteed deal worth $900,000, according to Hummel's agent Mark Bartelstein.

"Really excited to be back in Minneapolis for another season," Hummel tweeted late Monday night. "Thanks to everyone for all the support!"

Fans, reporters and other Wolves constituents who have met Hummel are likely excited, too. Friendly, down-to-earth and affable, he established himself as one of the NBA's most genuine personalities during his rookie season.

But he also showed president of basketball operations and coach Flip Saunders enough to prove himself worthy of the franchise's 14th roster spot in 2014-15.

The 58th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft played mostly spot duty last season, one of the first to fill in when injuries plagued the first unit. He started five games, averaged 12.4 minutes in 53 appearances, shot 36 percent from 3-point range and averaged 13.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per 48 minutes.

Hummel also was one of Minnesota's hardest-working defenders. While he struggled to match up athletically with some of his defensive charges, he put forth enough effort to close on shots and be pesky in the post.

When the season ended, though, Saunders opted not to extend Hummel a qualifying offer, rendering him an unrestricted free agent -- a move predicated upon maintaining maximum flexibility during free agency. But with little action on that front, Saunders decided to stick with what was working in flashes last year.

After all, someone has to play power forward this season.

Any deal for Love is sure to feature a four in return -- the proposed trade with Cleveland includes Anthony Bennett, while earlier rumblings out of Golden State said David Lee was in the mix. But with unrestricted free agent Dante Cunningham unlikely to be retained, the Wolves need depth at power forward whether Love is here for training camp or not.

Enter Hummel. At 6-foot-8 and 220 pounds, he's a bit undersized and slow of foot to be a first-unit four man (when he started last season, it was primarily on the wing). But with a nose for rebounds and a shooting ability he said wasn't on full display last season (37.9 percent from the floor), he's an option off the bench to either play power forward or slide in at small forward if Saunders decides to go big with, say, Gorgui Dieng and Nikola Pekovic on the floor at the same time.

Health remains key for Hummel. After two torn ACLs and meniscus damage slowed his transition from Purdue to the NBA, he was 100 percent for all of last season.

Saunders is betting he can stay that way, and in doing so provide part a partial remedy to the Love crisis.

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