MINNEAPOLIS - Life isn’t going to get any easier for the Minnesota Timberwolves any time soon.
They’ve got the worst record in the NBA at 7-26, and they’re without guard D’Angelo Russell for at least another month. They learned Thursday they’ll be without guard Malik Beasley for 12 games after he was suspended by the NBA for conduct stemming from his arrest last September for pointing an assault rifle at a family outside his Plymouth home.
Beasley pleaded guilty to threats of violence in the incident, and was sentenced to 120 days in the Hennepin Country workhouse. He will likely serve that sentence on home confinement after the season ends. The Wolves will be without Beasley until March 27, when they host the Houston Rockets at Target Center.
Beasley was in the middle of the best season of his career, averaging 20.5 points per game. So what was Chris Finch’s message to the team at practice Friday? One player’s absence is another’s opportunity.
"We’re not expecting any one person to just jump up and give us those 20 points. We can do it by a series of small gains, a little better defense, more rebounding, take care of the ball. Let the system create some shots for people. There’s going to be opportunity," Finch said. "There’s opportunity for a lot of these guys to get in there and make something happen for themselves and prove that they deserve a little more playing time perhaps."
Finch said he has not determined who will start in Beasley’s place Saturday night against the Washington Wizards. They’ll need more from Anthony Edwards, who is averaging 14.3 points per game in his rookie season. Jarrett Culver is back from his ankle injury, and they’ll need more from Josh Okogie and Jaylen Nowell.
The biggest issues at the moment are on the defensive end. In an 0-2 start for the Wolves under Finch, they’ve allowed 139 and 133 points. The Wolves have lost six straight and 10 of their last 11 games.