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Hurry up! Wolves sign player close to arena to fill roster

SHARE Hurry up! Wolves sign player close to arena to fill roster
Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick shoots during practice for the NCAA college basketball tournament in Spokane, Wash.

Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick shoots during practice for the NCAA college basketball tournament in Spokane, Wash.

Elaine Thompson, Associated Press

NEW YORK — The Minnesota Timberwolves were so desperate for bodies they signed a player Thursday based on how quickly he could get to the game.

Sean Kilpatrick went from practicing with the Delaware 87ers of the NBA Development League to playing for the Timberwolves with a 10-day contract about 3 ½ hours later. He arrived in time to give them the league-mandated eight players in uniform for their game against the New York Knicks.

"We had practice today to get ready to play one of the other D-League teams," Kilpatrick said after the Timberwolves' 95-92 overtime victory. "I didn't think I was going to end up here. It's kind of a blessing."

Listing eight players on their injured list, the Wolves didn't just need a player. They needed one who wouldn't take long to get here.

"We had to fulfill our rules, so we had to go find somebody that was within a train ride away," Wolves coach Flip Saunders said.

Kilpatrick actually drove, arriving in the Wolves' locker room at Madison Square Garden about 45 minutes before the start. He quickly introduced himself to guard Ricky Rubio, who joined the injured ranks Thursday with a sore right ankle.

Kilpatrick is from New York — his parents, brother and sister were at the game — so he had no problem navigating his way in what took about 3 hours.

"Just jump in the car and drive," he said. "I came in about 6:30 p.m. There wasn't no traffic with the rush hour. So it was pretty good."

He was scoreless in 10 minutes, missing his only shot.

The Wolves were already without Kevin Garnett, Nikola Pekovic, Anthony Bennett, Shabazz Muhammad, Gary Neal, Justin Hamilton and Robbie Hummel. Because of the injuries, they were granted an NBA hardship exception for a 16th roster spot.

They couldn't use it on a player from the Knicks' D-League team in nearby Westchester County, which would have been easiest, because those players were en route to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for a game Friday.

Kilpatrick, the former University of Cincinnati star, was close enough.

"We had him in before so we worked him out, so we knew about him and we've been following him, but there's no question that geography helped," Saunders said. "We had to have a guy here ready to play at 7:30."

Fellow rookie Zach LaVine said meeting a teammate so close to the game reminded him of playing pick-up ball, when someone might say, "Hey, you're on my team."

"He asked me what it's like and I was like, 'Dang, my first game I didn't play.' I said, you're about to play," LaVine added.

Kilpatrick has averaged 13.6 points in 42 games this season with Delaware and Santa Cruz. And his arrival wasn't even the latest Saunders had seen. When Saunders was coaching in the CBA, Sidney Lowe — now a Wolves assistant — arrived half a game later.

"For the (postseason) he had to be eligible for seven games and the seventh game we were playing at La Crosse. So he flew in and got in at halftime," Saunders said.

"He got in playing the second half to be playoff eligible."