Let’s start with the bad news: Tom Thibodeau announced today that Robert Covington, who missed Wednesday’s game in Boston, will be out for an “extended period” with a bone bruise. What an extended period is was not made clear, but the Wolves will be without their top two-way wing for the foreseeable future.
In his absence, expect Derrick Rose to start as the nominal off-guard when he’s available and Josh Okogie to start when he’s not. Rose has missed the last three games with a sore ankle, and is not expected to play tonight.
This obviously ripples throughout the lineup, as the Wolves were already rather thin on wings Thibs is willing to play. In the absence of both Covington and Rose against the Celtics, Thibs ran Anthony Tolliver out as the back up wing, a role he is clearly unsuited for.
Mike’s timely article this morning about Thibs’ unwillingness to use the guys deeper on the bench even in emergency situations—guys like Keita Bates-Diop and James Nunnally—reminds us that options, at least in the coach’s view, are very limited.
It does mean more consistent playing time for Okogie, who has shown some promise especially as a defender, but has struggled recently. Whether he’s hitting a rookie wall, or is simply getting exposed is unclear, but extra minutes to develop isn’t a bad thing.
But the reality is, the Wolves are a significantly weaker team without RoCo in there, and they were already behind the eight-ball in terms of fighting for a playoff spot this season. Things aren’t going to be easier without him.
The “good” news is that Jeff Teague is slated to return from injury tonight, and will be reinstalled as the starting point guard. Tyus Jones, who has gotten the opportunity over the last three games with both Teague and Rose out and has made the most of it, returns to the bench. I expect his minutes to quickly return to his norm when coming off the bench, which is too bad since he clearly brings synergy with the starting unit.
Still, the Wolves have been desperate for some point guard depth, having resorted to Jerryd Bayless as Jones’ backup over the last several games. As long as Rose sits, we may see some Teague-Jones back court minutes, given the lack of trust Thibs has in his other wing options.
The Wolves host the Orlando Magic tonight at 7:00 pm CST.