MINNEAPOLIS -- Just when Josh Howard appeared to be carving an important niche in the NBA for himself again after battling back from a torn ACL in his left knee, the 32-year-old forward is right back where he started.
The Timberwolves waived him Thursday after an MRI revealed a torn ACL in Howard's right knee. He was injured Friday at New Orleans. The team initially hoped he would be able to return this season, but as usual for these hard-luck Wolves, the news could not have been worse.
"I feel really bad for him," coach Rick Adelman said before the Wolves hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder. "He worked so hard to bring himself back. It's just a shock."
Howard was brought in last month after Chase Budinger tore the meniscus in his left knee. He averaged 6.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in 11 games this season, emerging as a valuable defender on the perimeter against bigger guards and small forwards.
With Howard out, Andrei Kirilenko is Adelman's only real option to guard the aggressive small forwards and shooting guards that are too big for Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea to handle. Adelman said the Wolves are looking for someone to bring in. Free agent Michael Redd, who has suffered through his own series of knee injuries the last few years, could be an option.
"We need someone like Josh," an exasperated Adelman said. "That's really what we need, especially a backup (small forward) that can guard perimeter people. We better get somebody, but I don't know who that is at this point."
It's the latest in a long line of injuries for the Wolves. Budinger, Brandon Roy and Malcolm Lee all are out with knee injuries. Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Barea and Kirilenko have also missed time with various injuries.
Rubio returned to the lineup last weekend after missing the first month and a half while rehabbing the torn ACL in his left knee, and it appeared as though the Wolves might finally be getting back close to a full roster. Then Howard went down, and the Wolves are scrambling again.
"It's one thing to lose all those guys at the start of the year, especially your better players," Adelman said. "Then they start trickling back and it changes everything again."