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Flip explains roster changes; GR3 out, Justin Hamilton in

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Flip Saunders spoke to some of the media on Thursday about waiving Glenn Robinson III, and signing Justin Hamilton.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves announced Thursday that they claimed center Justin Hamilton off waivers and, in a subsequent move, waived forward Glenn Robinson III. The latter was a decision that caught many by surprise, but not because Robinson became a useful asset in a short time with the Wolves.

In fact, rarely was Robinson afforded the opportunity to make significant contributions. Fans never really saw much of him because he was stuck on the depth chart behind Chase Budinger, Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad and Robbie Hummel--and Corey Brewer, before he was traded to Houston on Dec. 19.

Selected in last summer's draft with the 40th overall pick Robinson spent only 108 minutes on the floor with the Wolves. He scored 29 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and committed 5 fouls over a 25 game span. Only once did he play more than 10 minutes in a single game (12/6/2014 @ San Antonio).

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The curious question left in wake of Robinson's departure: Why wait this long to cut him? The Wolves certainly could have used an additional roster vacancy as they shuffled through the likes of Miroslav Raduljica and Jeff Adrien back in December and into January.

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Addressing the media, yesterday, Flip Saunders, standing outside the locker room, admitted that Robinson never really got much of an opportunity. Saunders doesn't think that was going to change.

We really like Glenn (Robinson) you know, it's unfortunate for him, he never really had much of an opportunity. We didn't see that changing. When we drafted him we didn't have Wiggins. The dynamics of that changed and we just thought, with Wiggins' development and also the development of Shabazz--bein' able to play that small forward spot--that he (GR3) was never really going to have, uh, it's tough to develop three young players at the same position.

Waived was Robinson in order to make room for Justin Hamilton, a 7-foot center who turns 25 on April 1st. With Anthony Bennett injured and sidelined for an unknown period of time; the uncertainty of Nikola Pekovic's long-term and short-term health, the limited abilities of Kevin Garnett and only Gorgui Dieng and Adreian Payne to depend on for consistent minutes, adding another big body makes sense for the Wolves.

"We brought in some bigs with KG, who is going to (offer) be limited minutes," Saunders explained, "we brought in another big in AP (Adreian Payne), who is young, and, uhh, with AB (Anthony Bennett) bein' somewhat hurt and with Pek, not knowing (about his health) pretty much on a day-to-day basis. We didn't want to get caught in a situation where we're playin' games where Gorgui (Dieng) and AP are our only big guys."

Hamilton spent two seasons at Iowa State University before transferring to Louisiana State. Hamilton earned second-team All-SEC honors while leading LSU in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. He left college with one year of eligibility remaining and was selected 45th overall in the 2012 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. Shortly thereafter, he was traded to the Miami Heat for the rights of Arnett Moultrie.

A Prospect Profile on NBA.com lists Hamilton's strengths and weaknesses.
Worth noting: The NBA.com/stats page has no record of Hamilton.
If you're looking him up, just head to Basketball-Reference.

Strengths

  • Inside-outside offensive game
  • Moves well
  • Effective high-post passer
  • Good free-throw shooter
Weaknesses
  • Has to get stronger
  • Needs to become more consistent
Hamilton started in 39 games with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA D-League in 2013-14. He started in all of his 39 appearances and in that time averaged 19.2 points, 9.3 rebounds and 35.6 minutes per game. Hamilton played in only 24 games (five starts) this season with the Miami Heat, averaging 2.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in 12.0 minutes per game.

(From a Wolves press release: Hamilton was traded from the Heat to the New Orleans Pelicans on February 19, 2015. He did not appear in a game with the Pelicans before being waived on March 3, 2015.)

It appears as though, on paper, Hamilton(who from what I can tell has been completely devoid of any sort of injury during his collegiate and NBA career)is a skilled offensive player that can rebound and hit the outside jump shot. The Wolves latest addition may even potentially be capable of shooting 3's at an efficient clip, but Saunders isn't sure he's there yet.

"He can step out to like 20ft or so, yes." Saunders said of Hamilton on Thursday. "Some people think he's got 3pt range. I don't know if it's at that range right now but he has the ability to step out and he's pretty skilled, and he's big."

When asked what Hamilton will bring the Wolves from a defensive standpoint, specifically with pick-and-roll defense, Saunders replied, "I mean that (P&R defense) is a team (concept)."

Saunders continued: "He's been with Miami, which is a good breeding ground. He's been there, with their teams, and they have a good team, (so) we'll see how he integrates into our team defense."

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Without question, the Timberwolves needed additional size because of injuries to Hummel and Bennett. Garnett offers worthwhile contributions when he's on the floor, but can't play back-to-back situations and thus Pekovic, Dieng and Payne are really the extent of the depth at the 4 and 5 positions.Of these three, Dieng and Payne are the only truly reliable players capable of offering consistent minutes without any imposed limitations or restrictions.

The same is untrue for Pekovic, who played only 12 minutes in a recent matchup against Memphis and just 15 minutes in a loss to Denver. Saunders has often spoke about a minute limit(s) for players returning from injury, a la Pekovic, but seemingly struggles to stick his guns in such scenarios. Between Feb. 11-25, Pekovic played 30+ minutes in four consecutive games followed by a 29 minute outing against Chicago on Feb. 27.

It may seem as if Saunders rarely sticks to his word when it comes to these restrictions but, to his credit, Pekovic is averaging less minutes per game than he did in either of the previous two seasons.

The addition of Hamilton will give the Wolves more depth at the 4 and 5 spot, and should provide Pekovic with some much needed rest at this juncture in the season.

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It sounds as though Robinson was kept around as insurance, just incase something happened that would leave the Wolves shorthanded at small forward. But had the Wolves cut Robinson earlier in the year, they could have retained either Adrien or Raduljica and kept Pekovic on a strict minute restriction. Robinson didn't offer much in terms of production, nor was he a big body capable of defending forwards or centers.

The timing of these moves the Wolves made on Thursday is certainly odd. But the logic behind cutting Glenn Robinson III to make room for a larger body and skilled big in Justin Hamilton makes sense, especially if this means Flip Saunders will depend on Nikola Pekovic much less than he has over the previous few weeks.