Wolves hope Josh Howard's presence will give Andrei Kirilenko rest
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Josh Howard joined the Minnesota Timberwolves for shoot-around Friday morning just hours before his debut against the Golden State Warriors.
Howard, 32, signed the veteran's minimum of $1.2 million dollars Thursday to join a Wolves team that has been steamrolled by injuries through eight games. The coaching staff worked Howard out while in Dallas on Monday and pulled the trigger just days later.
As for his role, Howard will likely take a wait-and-see approach.
"(Ill play as much as) coach decides," Howard said. "I am going to go out there and give it my all. It is my first time playing since (Utah) lost in the playoffs. But I've been in shape, working out in Dallas, just trying to stay ready. ...
"It is unfortunate those guys got hurt, but at the same time the Timberwolves were looking for someone to step in until those guys got back and I am glad they thought of me. I got tired of working out every day."
Howard has been working out daily in Dallas but hasn't gotten any live experience in pickup games because the competition from college kids and weekend warriors simply wasn't up to snuff.
The biggest boost Howard will give the Wolves Friday while he continues to learn the offense is to give Andrei Kirilenko some time to rest his legs. The veteran has played 43-plus minutes his past three games, and the team wants to keep some tread on his 31-year-old tires so he can last the whole season.
"I hope (this means I play less minutes)," Kirlienko said. "I am ready to play whatever coach needs me, but it is definitely better when we have a couple forwards."
Any contribution Howard can give the Wolves Friday will be valuable since they will once again be playing with nine players after J.J. Barea, Nikola Pekovic and Brandon Roy were all ruled out.
Some say that Howard is joining the Wolves nine years too late after Kevin McHale infamously passed on him in 2003 to pick Ndudi Ebi at No. 26. Howard was drafted by Dallas two picks later.
"I remember Ndudi Ebi's name being called before me," Howard said with a laugh. "That was kind of motivation, no disrespect to him. I just used that motivation throughout my career and this is a new opportunity. Teams passed me by but Minnesota gave me a shot so I am going to give it my all. "
Howard was a former teammate of Barea and knows both Luke Ridnour and Kirilenko from coming into the league around the same time. After Friday's game, the team has four days off which Howard says he will use to learn the offense and get acclimated with a new group of teammates.
"There are a bunch of fighters on this team and that's the type of stuff I love, guys who don't quit," Howard said. "I am very excited for this opportunity to go out there and give it my all."