MINNEAPOLIS — It’s now official: three long-known entities will duke it out for the Timberwolves final roster spot.
They may all lose.
While Minnesota signed 2013 second-round draft pick Lorenzo Brown, 2012 second-rounder Robbie Hummel and free-agent journeyman Othyus Jeffers to training-camp contracts Thursday, one of them will have to separate himself considerably in training camp to earn the team’s 15th guaranteed deal. That’s because president of basketball operations Flip Saunders has expressed interest in keeping the slot open in case of injury or other unforeseen circumstances.
Unless one of the aforementioned three can change his mind.
Jeffers is the only one of the group with any NBA experience, having played 31 NBA games from 2009-2011 with Utah, San Antonio and Washington. He landed a spot on the Timberwolves’ summer league squad and did enough in Las Vegas to convince them to invite him to training camp, which begins next Tuesday at Minnesota State in Mankato.
A buff, 6-foot-5, 200-pound shooting guard, Jeffers averaged 8.2 points and 2.8 rebounds in summer league play. He’s also a well-decorated NBA D-League veteran, earning rookie of the year recognition in 2008-09 and appearing in the 2009 and 2011 NBADL All-Star Games.
Hummel gets his first crack in an NBA camp after spending his inaugural season of professional basketball in Spain.
The 58th overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft shot 41.1 percent from 3-point range and averaged 10.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game for Obradoiro CAB. Hummel recovered quickly from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right leg — the same wheel in which he tore his ACL twice while at Purdue — and helped his team sneak into the Liga ACB playoffs.
The 6-foot-8, 215-pound small forward felt and appeared healthy during summer league, notching 8.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
At the moment, Brown looks destined for a path similar to that of Jeffers or Hummel. Though he called the 6-foot-5, 186-pound point guard a “first-round talent” after taking him 52nd overall, Saunders has said the team could send Brown overseas or down to the D-League.
But Brown’s tied-for-team-high 2.2 assists per game in Las Vegas helped earn him at least a shot. Minnesota is well-equipped at the point position, however, with J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved already in line to back up Ricky Rubio.
The non-guaranteed, one-year training camp contracts are mere formalities; it was announced in August that all three had been invited to camp.