Timberwolves point guard J.J. Barea is trying to cope with not making the playoffs for the first time in his six-year NBA career.
Barea, who signed with the Wolves in December as a free agent, was in the playoffs in all five seasons he played with Dallas and was an integral part of the Mavericks' run to the NBA championship last season.
"Compared to last year, this is a totally different experience for me," Barea said before the Wolves' 113-107 loss to Denver on Wednesday, April 11. "But it makes you stay positive and makes you mentally tougher."
Dallas averaged 56 regular-season wins during Barea's career with the Mavericks. The Wolves were 31 wins below that average entering Wednesday's game.
Barea recalls the Mavericks qualifying for the playoffs each year with at least a month remaining in the regular season, but he was optimistic about what the Wolves accomplished this season. The Wolves finished last season with the worst record in the NBA: 17-65.
"For this team, it was still a good year compared to last season," Barea said of the Wolves. "There have been a lot of positives. We just have to get healthy for next year and get off to a good start."
Brewer's playoff run
Former Wolves guard-forward Corey Brewer earned a championship ring with Dallas last season and is in the middle of another potential playoff run.
Denver entered Wednesday's game in the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot with nine games to play. During
Brewer's 3-1/2 seasons in Minnesota, the Wolves averaged only 18-1/2 wins.
"It feels good the way things are going for me, but don't get me wrong, I miss Minnesota," Brewer said before Wednesday's game. "You always miss the first place you were at."
Brewer, in his fifth season, has started 17 games for the Nuggets. He entered Wednesday's game averaging 9.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 22.0 minutes. He had eight points, three steals and two assists in 16 minutes against the Wolves.
Summer league returns
The NBA is reviving the Las Vegas Summer League, which was suspended last year because of the lockout. The summer league, mainly for first- and second-year players, is scheduled for July 13-22.
Most of the league's 30 teams have sent players to the summer league to help with their development. Wolves coach Rick Adelman supports the event's return.
"We've tried to identify some people who the league would help," Adelman said.
Adelman mentioned rookies Derrick Williams and Malcolm Lee as well as Wes Johnson as candidates. Adelman said a decision will be made during the final week of the season when the Wolves have a three-day break between their last two games.
Adelman said he plans to use that time to have exit interviews with the players and map out their summer regimen.
Wolves guard Luke Ridnour, who has missed the past four games with an ankle sprain, is doubtful for tonight's game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Target Center. Adelman said Ridnour told him he does intend to play during the final two weeks of the season. ... Guard Wayne Ellington did not play Wednesday because of back spasms.
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