Mar, 23, 2012; Oklahoma City OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Lazar Hayward (11) shoots the ball against Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Jose Juan Barea (11) and shooting guard Wesley Johnson (4) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

A Warm Body for the New Year: Lazar Hayward

When the Timberwolves had old friend Lazar Hayward at Target Center for a workout and chose to not sign him immediately afterwards, it seemed as though the Wolves had remembered that he wasn’t very good. In fact, they even worked out Joey Graham and James Anderson last week, the latter of whom has since been signed by Houston. On Monday, the Wolves announced the signing of Hayward.

The choice is a little surprising, given the extremely limited upside of the move. Of course, Hayward should not see the floor very often, and was lauded in Oklahoma City last season as a very good practice player. With Chase Budinger and Malcom Lee still out for the foreseeable future and Josh Howard out for the season, the Wolves needed a wing defender. Hayward should provide serviceable defense when called upon, and the Wolves clearly decided to go with someone that the front office and the coaching staff was already familiar with.

This signing doesn’t change a whole lot for the Wolves moving forward, and it is your run-of-the-mill, no-risk, no-reward, warm-body type of signing. The contract is surely non-guaranteed, and there have been persistent rumors of the apparently mutual interest in/from French wing Mickael Gelabale, who has a contract opt-out in Europe through the end of the month. In addition, the likelihood of the Wolves making a move before the February trade deadline remains high, and Hayward’s contract and/or roster spot will probably prove necessary whenever a trade is commenced.

Hayward will probably log a fair amount of DNP-CDs, but will help spell and protect Andrei Kirilenko when he is forced to guard other team’s top wing scorers. Howard was playing good defense before his injury, and Hayward needs to be able to help in that category if he is to be useful to the Wolves in any way. I don’t love the signing, but any gnashing of teeth over this move should be reserved for potential moves down the road. Other than Gelabale (still available), Anderson (with Houston), or the recently-waived Josh Childress (waivers), there simply was not a lot out there, anyways. Here’s hoping he plays some adequate, decidedly average ball for Adelman and Co.

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