Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  By Phil Ervin  |  Last updated 1/14/14
MINNEAPOLIS -- He spends most of his time during games at the end of the bench, throwing out pointers and making sure rookies are paying attention. He beats up on Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea during practice, yet that pair's presence in the lineup has kept him from playing a meaningful minute all season. He's not large, he's not long, and he's far from an NBA household name. Yet A.J. Price is still here. The Timberwolves' backup point guard's 2013-14 contract became guaranteed for the rest of the season last week, meaning if the team did decide to part ways with him at some point, he'd at least leave with a sizeable paycheck in hand. Such a front-office move would appear justified, at least on paper. The 6-foot-2, 181-pound, fifth-year veteran has appeared in just 16 of Minnesota's 37 games so far, almost exclusively in the fourth quarter of already-decided contests. He's attempted only 26 field goals all season. But the reason both president of basketball operations Flip Saunders and coach Rick Adelman concurred Price should stay is twofold: chemistry and potential damage control. "He is a great guy to have in the locker room," Adelman said. "And if something ever happened -- I hope it doesn't happen -- to our point guards, I wouldn't hesitate to play A.J. You know he can do the job." The coach's evidence is drawn from Price's performance last season in Washington, where he started 22 games, played in 57 and averaged a career-high 22.4 minutes per contest. He worked under former Wizards personnel man Milt Newton -- now the Timberwolves' general manager -- then, and Newton gave him a ringing endorsement when Minnesota's front office began looking for potential training-camp invitees this offseason. As he has in each of his five NBA seasons, Price proved his worth during the preseason. In five exhibition appearances, he shot 48.1 percent and dished out 2.4 assists per game while exhibiting command of Adelman's offense. His tireless work during camp in Mankato immediately turned heads within the organization, and the Timberwolves opted to keep him around and cut 2013 second-round draft pick Lorenzo Brown. The same traits continue to show up even while Price warms the bench, Adelman said. "Every day, he comes ready to play," Adelman said. "Every practice, he comes ready to play. He's just very professional." It's not a new mindset for the Connecticut product. Selected 52nd overall by Indiana in the 2009 draft, Price has had to earn a roster spot each year he's been in the league. He frequently shares tools for navigating the annual professional hoops grind with Minnesota's younger players, even first-round, guaranteed-millions rookies Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. A higher-than-average knowledge of the game allows him to point out opponent weaknesses and offer tips to his teammates during the course of play, too. Watch Price from his spot near the corner at the next Timberwolves home game. Chances are, he'll tell Rubio or Kevin Love how he can position himself better or run a certain play more efficiently. But make no mistake. Price wants to play, not coach. "I'm still never satisfied," said Price, who averaged 14.9 minutes per game during his first three years in the NBA, all with Indiana. "I haven't been able to find my way onto the court, into the rotation, and that was my main goal this year, not just making the team." But it looks like the only way that becomes a possibility is if something happens to Rubio or Barea. Adelman learned all too well during his first two years here how crippling the loss of a point guard can be when Rubio went down with an ACL tear. His absence leaked into last season, when Love and several other key pieces missed significant time due to injury. "We need a lot of insurance policies," Adelman said. "Especially at the point." The coach added he prefers to always carry three point guards, for that very same reason. Alexey Shved can also play the position, though Adelman prefers to use him at the two-guard spot. And while Price looks to be buried in that rotation, he embraces the role of serving his teammates even while he tries to make his own personal mark. "I've always been a team-first guy since I was a kid," Price said. "I'm more about the team. I'm gonna do everything I can to help those guys, regardless of whether I'm playing or not." Follow Phil Ervin on Twitter
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Is Anthony Davis really the best big man from UK in the NBA?
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Olympic wrestler turned ISIS recruit killed in U.S. drone strike

Report: Jamaal Charles to play Sunday against Steelers

Dez Bryant says he will not play Sunday against 49ers

Bill O’Brien officially rules J.J. Watt out for season

Report: Eric Decker out Sunday with partial tear in rotator cuff

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Browns planning to part ways with Josh Gordon

Noah skips dinner at West Point because he's anti-war

Giants could use wide receiver at safety against Vikings

Ryan Tannehill does not mince words regarding offense

Russell Wilson on playing Sunday against Jets: ‘No doubt’

Report: Tyson Fury failed drug test, will be stripped of title belts

WATCH: Is it time for the Jaguars to fire Gus Bradley?

Combing through the crowded 2016 MLB MVP races

The Blue Jays and the meaning of a late season freefall

CFB Crash Course: Week 5 - Less one Les

Box Score: 9/30 - Dolphins, Popovich and MLB umps

Seven most absurd stats heading into NFL Week 4

Antonio Brown to honor Arnold Palmer with custom cleats

The best and worst from the 2016 World Cup of Hockey

Players Jurgen Klinsmann may call up for USMNT friendlies

Byron Scott has no relationship with D’Angelo Russell

Steve Kerr favors shorter NBA preseason to limit back-to-backs

Flaws of MLB replay system exposed in Cardinals’ victory

Timberwolves News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Is it time for the Jaguars to fire Gus Bradley?

Combing through the crowded 2016 MLB MVP races

The Blue Jays and the meaning of a late season freefall

CFB Crash Course: Week 5 - Less one Les

NBA winners and losers: Gregg Popovich as a voice of reason

WATCH: Will LSU have to sell its soul to find its next head coach?

The clubhouse leaders for MLB Rookies of the Year

Goodbye, Ted: 20 years of highs and lows at Turner Field

Forza Horizon 3 review: Going Top Gear

NFL Kickoff Week 4: Guess what? The NFL is dying again

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker