Telfair’s reward for quality play is battle for playing time
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Since training camp began, Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis has been saying he wouldn’t know what kind of basketball team he has this season until all his players are healthy. Slowly, finally, that is starting to happen.
Point guard Jonny Flynn is nearly set to play following hip surgery four months ago. Flynn will get a Development League tuneup, perhaps as early as this weekend, before making his 2010-11 Wolves debut. Flynn accompanied the team to Texas on Tuesday, but before leaving Target Center, he said a game in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Friday is a possibility.
Meanwhile, shooting guard Martell Webster, also expected to be a key part of the team, took part in contact during practice Tuesday, taking another step in his recovery from back surgery in late October.
Webster’s return is still a ways away, but Flynn’s is imminent. and, once he’s back, it will change the team’s dynamic at point guard.
What a difference from just two weeks ago when, while battling plantar fasciitis, Sebastian Telfair played the iron man while Flynn rehabbed and Luke Ridnour rested a sore hamstring. when Ridnour returned, Telfair’s minutes dropped as he battled the foot pain. by as early as next week, Telfair will be locked in a three-way battle for playing time.
"I’ll worry about that when Jonny comes back," Telfair said. "right now, I’m a part of this team, they need me out on the court, playing well, in order to win some games. I’m going to focus on that."
Rambis said there is no way he can find enough minutes for three healthy point guards, so he will soon have a decision to make. "They’ll still have to earn [minutes]," Rambis said. "we still have to find two guys who are playing good with their respective units, whomever those guys are."
Telfair has been traded to the Wolves twice in his career and has faced this situation before. he came here in 2007 in the Kevin Garnett trade, joining a team that had two point guards in Randy Foye and Marko Jaric.
When Foye missed the first half of the 2007-08 season, Telfair started 51 games (though he missed the final 21 games because of an ankle injury).
This season, Telfair has played well — Rambis credited him for getting the Wolves offense under control after a turnover-prone start — and often.
Rambis said the two best guards will play, but it’s clear the Wolves would like Flynn, their first-round pick in 2009, to flourish. Ridnour is in the first season of a four-year deal.
Telfair is a free agent after this season. Would it be difficult to sit after having played so much early in the season?
"I’ll let you know if it’s hard or not when it happens," Telfair said. "I’m here, every day, working hard, doing what’s asked of me. it was the same situation as when I first came here. I knew then I’d have to fight to get on the court, and I did. I’ll continue to do the same thing this time."
Rambis is just eager to see what his team looks like when everyone’s healthy. "It’s up to them to come out and earn their time, earn the right to play with units," he said. "That’s where I’m heading right now."
Rambis said Flynn appears to have benefited from watching the team and the offense evolve from behind the bench in games. Still, there will be a lengthy process for losing the rust and reacclimating to the pace of the game. there are also new teammates to get to know, on court, during games.
Flynn said Telfair and Ridnour have been constant tutors since camp began. Soon they will all be competitors.
"and that’s going to be fun," Flynn said. "I’ve always scrapped for everything I’ve had, this will be no different."
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