5:10pm: Minnesota has been granted a hardship exception by the league and has officially inked Onuaku, the team announced.
1:34pm: The Timberwolves are bringing in Arinze Onuaku to help their injury-depleted roster, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press. Minnesota already has 15 players on contracts that run until at least the end of the season, but with Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Shabazz Muhammad out for the season and four other injured players, it seems as though the team is a candidate for a 16th roster spot via hardship exception. Minnesota added Jeff Adrien and Sean Kilpatrick earlier this season using that mechanism. In any case, a deal for Onuaku would have to cover the balance of 2014/15 and couldn’t be a 10-day contract, since there are fewer than 10 days left in the regular season.
Onuaku has spent this season with the D-League affiliate of the Cavs after the Pacers had him on their NBA roster for the preseason. The 27-year-old power forward was briefly with Cleveland and New Orleans during the regular season in 2013/14, and those teams gave him his first official NBA action, though he appeared in only five games for both the Cavs and Pelicans put together. Onuaku went undrafted out of Syracuse in 2010, but at 6’9″, he’s looked strong on the boards for the D-League Canton Charge this year, racking up 12.2 rebounds in 34.6 minutes per game across 41 appearances. He’s also averaged 17.5 points on 11.5 shots per game.
Kevin Garnett, Anthony Bennett, Gorgui Dieng and Gary Neal are also injured for Minnesota, leaving the team with only Justin Hamilton, Adreian Payne and Robbie Hummel as inside players. So, Onuaku would help in that regard, and he’d also keep the team from scrambling to find a player to meet the minimum of eight healthy guys for the start of a game. The Wolves were down to seven healthy players when they signed Kilpatrick to be their eighth last month for a game against the Knicks, choosing him in part because he was a only short distance away.