Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio have both returned from injuries that kept them out early in the season, but the injuries keep coming for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The latest casualties are forward Josh Howard, who tore the ACL in his right knee and was waived on Thursday, and guard Malcolm Lee (knee), who will be out for the rest of the season with a knee injury of his own. So the Timberwolves find themselves even thinner at small forward and shooting guard, since Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger are already out.
Coach Rick Adelman has acknowledged publicly the need to add to add a player that can capably defend perimeter players while serving as a backup to Andrei Kirilenko at small forward. Anyone that is available at this stage of the season likely has some sort of issue attached to them, otherwise they would be on a roster somewhere. But there are some recognizable names out there that could fit what Minnesota needs, including Michael Redd, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Donte Greene and Quentin Richardson. Redd and Douglas-Roberts have been mentioned as potential options already, but I think Richardson is the most intriguing name in the group I’ve listed.
But is he a good fit for the Timberwolves?
Richardson battled an illness and a calf issue during the preseason, and was ultimately waived by the Orlando Magic just prior to the start of the season. Injuries and a lack of production (4.5 points per game last season) were certainly a factor in his being let go, and at 32-years old along with being due close to $5.5 million over the final two years of his contract he did not fit with the franchise’s rebuilding effort.
Richardson has averaged 10.3 points per game, making over 35 percent of his three-pointers, over 12 NBA seasons for five teams. His best seasons came with the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns, with a career-high in points per game (17.2) coming during the 2003-2004 season with the Clippers. He signed as a free agent with the Suns the following off-season, and made a league-high 226 three-pointers during his lone season in Phoenix in 2004-2005.
Richardson was briefly a member of the Timberwolves during the summer of 2009, but he never played a game for the team as he was traded for the fourth time that off-season and ultimately landed with the Miami Heat for the 2009-2010 season.
The Timberwolves are certainly not looking to make a substantial financial commitment to any player right now, and a non-guaranteed contract will have to be sufficient for whoever they seriously consider signing. Richardson’s potential financial demands are unclear at best right now, but he does offer capable perimeter shooting and the ability to hold up defensively against athletic small forwards and shooting guards.
As a short-term answer with the potential to stick around if he performs well, I like Richardson as a fit for the Timberwolves as long as he can be healthy. If he plays poorly or simply can’t stay on the floor even without having to play heavy minutes, there would be little lost by cutting him loose and moving on.