LOS ANGELES – At age 35 and with the end of her WNBA playing career not far beyond the horizon, Lynx star guard Lindsay Whalen doesn’t know what her future will hold, other than she’ll be part of the Timberwolves television broadcast crew to help call eight games this season.
The first was Wednesday in Los Angeles against the Clippers, with play-by-play announcer Dave Benz and analyst Jim Petersen. She joined them for one game last season and now is back for eight more.
“I learned last year it’s fun to be that close to the action and just talk the game,” she said.
Her main objective this time around: Limit the number of times she says “you know” to, like, fewer than 100.
She has Petersen — her former assistant coach with the Lynx — alongside to help her along.
“They make it look easy,” Whalen said. “It’s actually pretty tough to do, but the pros make it look easy. I figured I’d just learn as much as possible and have fun with it as well. I love the NBA, I love basketball and I really enjoy being around one of my former coaches and one of the guys who did a lot for me.”
Asked if television commentary might be her future when she retires from playing, Whalen said, “Maybe. We’ll see.”
Bjelica isn’t back
Injured Wolves forward Nemanja Bjelica joined the Wolves in Los Angeles for Wednesday’s game, but didn’t play. He has missed the past eight games because of a sprain in the same left foot that needed surgery last March to repair a broken bone.
Asked Wednesday if he’s concerned the injury might be more long-term, Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said: “You want to make sure he’s healthy. We don’t want him going in and out. So just be patient. Let him work through it and when he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go.”
An acquired taste
Former Clippers guard Jamal Crawford returned to Staples Center for the first time since he was traded last summer. He played his former teammates Sunday at Target Center, but it was different going back to Los Angeles, where fans cheered him for five seasons.
“They were unbelievable,” said Crawford, who won two of his three Sixth Man awards as a Clipper. “My game honestly isn’t for everybody. Like, I’m an acquired taste. I get it. But those fans really took to me and if you like me, you really like me and I’m thankful for the support.”
The Clippers did a scoreboard video tribute to Crawford during a first-round timeout, and fans gave him a standing ovation. He crossed his hands over his heart and bowed in appreciation.
Feeling for a friend
Charlotte coach Steve Clifford is stepping away from his job indefinitely to address health issues the Hornets didn’t specify when they announced his leave Wednesday. He and Thibodeau were assistant coaches together for years in New York and Houston.
“I’m concerned obviously,” Thibodeau said. “He’s a very good friend. It’s a tough job, so you’re very concerned. Hopefully, he’ll be fine.”
• Wolves star Jimmy Butler played Wednesday with the last two fingers on his left hand taped to protect the pinkie finger he sprained in Monday’s loss at Memphis. He never was listed as injured on any of the Wolves’ official reports but played coy at Wednesday’s shoot about whether he’d play. “I can’t give up all my secrets,” he said.
• Butler owns a home in Malibu, Calif., and several other Wolves spend time in Los Angeles during the summer. A concerned Butler kept aware of the wildfires that raged from Ventura, Calif., an hour north of L.A., to near the UCLA campus, where the Wolves shot Wednesday morning. “It’s terrible,” Butler said. “But I still love L.A.”