The Minnesota Timberwolves announced yesterday that they were awarded 7’0 center Justin Hamilton off of waivers from the New Orleans Pelicans. Hamilton played collegiately at Iowa State for one year before transferring to LSU before the 2011-12 season. He was selected in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, who promptly traded his draft rights to the Miami Heat. Hamilton spent his first professional season in Croatia and Latvia before he returned to the States to make an attempt at cracking the Heat roster.
He was cut in training camp, but played for the Heat’s D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls SkyForce, for the majority of the 2013-14 season. Hamilton posted averages of 19 points and 9 rebounds on 48% shooting from the floor and 38% three-point shooting in 39 games. After a ten-day contract with the Charlotte Bobcats expired in March of 2014, the Heat signed Hamilton to a contract for the rest of the year. He appeared in 7 games as Miami made their way to the playoffs.
This season, Hamilton played in 24 games for the Heat, making 5 starts, averaging 3 points and 2 rebounds in 12 minutes per contest. He was included in the massive Miami-Phoenix-New Orleans deadline deal which saw Goran Dragic end up with the Heat, Danny Granger and draft picks head to the Suns, and Norris Cole, Shawne Williams and Hamilton shipped to the Pelicans. New Orleans waived Hamilton on March 3rd without ever using him in a game.
It’s fair to wonder if the Wolves’ sudden move to grab a 7-footer signals that Nikola Pekovic’s bothersome ankle may result in him being shut down. With 22 games to go, it would make some sense not to push Pek unnecessarily, as well as to take a look at a young player who might have a little bit of upside.
For the price of picking up Hamilton, the Wolves had to cut somebody, and that somebody turned out to be Glenn Robinson III. Selected with the 40th overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, the former Michigan Wolverine scored 29 points in 108 total minutes across 25 appearances. While plenty of people (myself included) liked the choice, we never really saw what he could do because he played so infrequently, and then only for short bursts.
At least we’ll always have this rookie media day photoshoot dunk contest between future teammates Glenn Robinson III, Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins: