Timberwolves granted hardship exception, sign Jeff Adrien

Milwaukee Bucks v Philadelphia 76ers

Saturday afternoon, the Timberwolves announced they had signed 28-year-old forward Jeff Adrien via the hardship exception, a special rule that grants teams meeting certain injury specifications an extra roster spot. The former UCONN Huskie has played with Golden State, Houston, Charlotte and Milwaukee over his four year NBA career, averaging 4.8 points and 4.3 rebounds on 48% shooting in 14 minutes per game.

Adrien received interest from the Timberwolves as an undrafted free agent back in 2009, but ultimately began his career in Spain before catching on with the Warriors the following summer. Since then, he’s bounced between each of his NBA stints and the D-League, with overseas ventures in Italy (2011) and Russia (2012) sprinkled in as well. He signed as a free agent with the Houston Rockets this past July and was somewhat of a surprise cut at the end of training camp, especially since he’d closed the 2013-14 season with Milwaukee on a relatively high note.

As a result of Adrien’s signing, three of the team’s four injured players (Kevin Martin, Ricky Rubio, Ronny Turiaf and Nikola Pekovic) are not allowed to play for at least ten days. Given the Wolves’ recent issues with depth at the point, some expected the team to use an available roster spot to sign a guard, but the frontcourt has also been woefully thin. Robbie Hummel has been playing backup center, which is okay if he’s matched up against, say, Carl Landry (as he was last Saturday), but is a huge problem when he has to defend Larry Sanders (as he was asked to do on Wednesday night). At 6’7, Adrien might not have the height of a prototypical center, but his 240-pound frame enables him to hold his own on the low block.

It’d probably unwise to read too much into the decision to go with a forward over a guard with the bonus roster spot, but it’s fair to speculate if the decision to sign Adrien signals that Pekovic may be further from a return than Ricky Rubio. Obviously, getting both of them back would be optimal, but it’s worth noting that the Wolves opted to shore up the frontcourt rather than the backcourt when they had the opportunity, and the prognosis of the guys who are currently hurt certainly factored into the decision.

Adrien is an experienced veteran with a little bit of upside. He averaged 10.9 points and 7.8 boards in 28 games with Milwaukee at the end of last season, his best (and most abundant) play in his NBA career. Of course, there’s got to be a reason he keeps bouncing around – rarely do players bounce through so many organizations without cause – but he fills a need for the Wolves and is likely coming here for a prorated portion of the veteran’s minimum. It’s a low risk, medium reward transaction for Minnesota.

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9 Responsesso far.

  1. gjk says:

    7’2 wingspan and his physicality probably give him a decent shot in the post. He’s kind of the same body type as Bennett but better defensively. I don’t know what their center options were, so this is mildly surprising.

  2. Jordan says:

    I am not sure why they didn’t sign Kyrylo “Grinch” Fesenko if they needed size. He could actually play the center spot and would be a least a little familiar with the team.

  3. gjk says:

    Fesenko is playing in Russia.

  4. Kyle says:

    I’m more surprised we didn’t go after someone like Heslip who has been lighting up the D-League. Either way, i think it’s an odd move that we didn’t go either Center or PG, Adrien seems to fit into the SF/PF mold and that’s the one area (especially SF) that the wolves actually have depth.

  5. farnorth says:

    I wonder if they gave DC any thought. The guy got a seriously bum rap from his Ex. Although I like Adrien’s size more.

  6. Skunedog says:

    I was also surprised by the Adrien signing – we seemed pretty set on undersized guys playing the 4/5. But the options were pretty thin for both veteran centers and point guards – Aaron Gray and Byron Mullens are the only guys with NBA experience at the 5 that are not under contract overseas, rehabbing, or dealing with legal issues. Ditto for Eric Maynor and Will Bynum as your list of pure point guards with notable NBA experience with no notable hang-ups.

  7. Jordan says:

    That makes a TON of sense. It hurts my feelings that he did not wait for the wolves to get riddled with injuries before he made his basketball decision.

  8. gjk says:

    To be fair, short is different than undersized; Young and Hummel are undersized, but Adrien is just short (though his 7’2 wingspan helps). Gray also has health problems (cardiac episode). Mullens would be hilarious, but I’d rather not have to root for unintentional comedy.

    I don’t get the interest in Heslip. First, his D-League team is chucking 3s at a rate that doesn’t represent the looks he’d get in the NBA. Second, with how many shots he takes, what makes him seem like a PG? He played off the ball in summer league and was a college SG.

  9. Pyrrol says:

    Wished we could have kept Heslip. Teams are murdering us with 3’s. Part of that is confused perimeter defense, but we don’t have a lot of good long range shooters. On the bench, Hummel, for instance was a stand out shooter in college, but obviously not a pro level 3 point shooter. Heslip would have been a nice ‘Barea without all the Barea crap’ option on the bench to hit threes and perhaps play some point. From what I’ve seen he’s better at Point than LaVine at this juncture.

    Yeah, confused about this… We are undersized. At most positions, our guys are just a little short, or if long, too light. We have one healthy center, and teams are killing us like sitting ducks in the paint and with help chuck outs because half our team has to collapse to cover normal centers and powers. We have 2 power forwards and Hummel as a back up who can play that position in a pinch. LaVine is getting way more action than he should at this point, although you should play to develop… Mo is old and had flaws. Without Rubio, we have no pure point. Mo knows how to handle the role with mixed success as a starter, LaVine is a talented youth who doesn’t handle it yet and may be a career 2. I like who Flip kept, but even healthy we are smallish compared to other lineups and were too shallow at point to start. (With no word about Turiaf, the center situation is dire now as well). We were asking to have point depth problems. In a fantasy world it would have been nice keep that 7’1″ Ukrainian fellow for some size and insurance (Pek does not have a good injury history, Turiaf is old and has never been healthy this season) and Heslip, who looks like decent shooter and point insurance, call me crazy. I was actually impressed by his ball handling for a guy who plays of ball a lot.

    But I don’t get picking up a power forward who most power forwards and centers will shoot over. That’s already one of our big problems. Wingspan doesn’t help all that much in the front court when you are 6’7″ on this team (have a feeling that span isn’t so much arm length as broadness). And what will this free up? Letting Hummel play in position so this new guy can play out of position and see how much he gets shot over? Hummel is sort of a guy with a medium size and good feel for the game, but due to how his skills and talents are translating to the NBA, he has no real position and won’t help our shooting woes. Oh well, I’m sure it will work out fine.

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