Substitute wingman Shabazz Muhammad was reportedly bought out by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday. Muhammad is in his fifth year in the NBA, all with the Wolves, and has been struggling with playing time this season under head coach Tom Thibodeau.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Muhammad plans to sign with the Milwaukee Bucks “upon clearing waivers” as interim head coach Joe Prunty’s squad also waived 6-foot-4 shooting guard Sean Kilpatrick to clear roster space.
Muhammad, 25, began his career in Minnesota when he was drafted 14th overall by the Wolves during the 2013 NBA Draft. He struggled with injuries during his first two seasons with the squad, playing only 75 of a possible 164 games during that span.
Finally, in his third year with the club, Muhammad was able to suit up for a full 82 games in the 2015-2016 season. He averaged 10.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game in probably his best year as a professional.
The former UCLA standout continued to be a reliable bench performer when Thibodeau took over head coaching chores from Sam Mitchell at the beginning of 2016-2017. He experienced a slight dip in playing time, from a little over 20 minutes a night to 19.4 minutes per game, and averaged a respectable 9.9 points and 2.8 boards for the season.
This year was different, though, as rumors came out that Thibodeau had lost confidence in Muhammad, particularly his play on the defensive end of the floor. His minutes dwindled down to only 9.4 per game this season as he averaged career lows of 3.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 32 games.
Wojnarowski noted that Muhammad “has been benched with DNP’s in 32 of the team’s past 43 games,” which was a clear sign that his future was no longer in Minnesota.
“I’m very happy (about the buyout deal) and can’t wait to get my next opportunity,” Muhammad said, as tweeted by The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears.
Wojnarowski said that Muhammad initially requested to be traded before last month’s deadline, but the Wolves failed to find a suitable trading partner for the 6-foot-6 wing player. Aside from the Bucks, the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans have emerged as two other teams that can pursue Muhammad in the buyout market.