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Ideally, Chris Finch would have settled on his fifth starter long ago. His preference would be to have such a role already well-defined, part of a set rotation. You can't always get what you want.
The Timberwolves are set to start their season, at Target Center, Wednesday night against Houston. Just who will start alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels isn't yet clear. It could be Josh Okogie, who is back from an ankle injury. Or Jarred Vanderbilt, or even Taurean Prince. At this point, Finch appears ready to allow the match up to determine his best starting five.
"Obviously you want to have as much well-defined roles as possible," the Wolves coach said."But if we don't have a traditional starting five, and if we go matchup-to-matchup, that's just how we're gonna do it. It's up to the guys to be professional and ready. They're still gonna play. It may just change somewhat how they play. And then they're gonna have every opportunity earn their way into a bigger role."
Finch doesn't appear to have a set five he wants to go to down the stretch of close games. Again, matchup-to-matchup could be the determining factor.
"I don't know that we'll have a standard five that we'll go to close," he said. "We have so much experience with [Patrick Beverley] and Taurean and these guys. … Teams tend to switch a lot down the stretch. So that will lend itself to different lineups."
Okogie good to go
Okogie was full-go in practice Monday and is expected to be available for Wednesday's opener. A decision on Jordan McLaughlin's status hasn't been made. Both Okogie (ankle) and McLaughlin (groin) missed the Wolves' final two preseason games. Both practiced Monday. For McLaughlin, it marked the first time he's had full participation since the injury.
"Josh is full-go,'' Finch said. "J-Mac is still working his way back. It's not clear … we hope to have [McLaughlin] on Wednesday. But he needs another day of live action to figure it out."
The NBA's deadline for extension for players on rookie-level contracts came and went Monday without a new deal for Okogie, who was eligible for an extension. Okogie is set to become a restricted free agent after the season.
The Wolves on Monday picked up the third-year options, as expected, on Edwards and McDaniels.
On the sidelines
Beverley will sit out Wednesday, serving a suspension he was given for shoving Chris Paul in Game 6 of last season's Western Conference finals. Will it be strange not having Beverley after having him throughout the preseason?
"It's not that big of a thing," Finch said. "If you had a guy who was hurt you'd be in the same situation. At least this way we could plan for it."
• Finch said he'd like to develop a rotation in which Towns and Naz Reid play more together on the court, especially in situations where Towns is the spacer on the pick-and-roll and Reid the roller. "He's one of our more dynamic roll threats, really," Finch said of Reid. "That gives us a different dynamic. Oftentimes they'll still put the five on KAT, so that gives the spacing for us."
• Russell said the camaraderie this Wolves team has reminds him of his time in Brooklyn, with the Nets team that made the 2019 playoffs. But this team, he said, has more energy. "We have a lot of young guys that just bring energy naturally," Russell said.