He spends most of his time during games at the end of the bench, throwing out pointers and making sure rookies are paying attention. He beats up on Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea during practice, yet that pair's presence in the lineup has kept him from playing a meaningful minute all season. He's not large, he's not long, and he's far from an NBA household name.

Yet A.J. Price is still here.

The Timberwolves' backup point guard's 2013-14 contract became guaranteed for the rest of the season last week, meaning if the team did decide to part ways with him at some point, he'd at least leave with a sizeable paycheck in hand. Such a front-office move would appear justified, at least on paper.

The 6-foot-2, 181-pound, fifth-year veteran has appeared in just 16 of Minnesota's 37 games so far, almost exclusively in the fourth quarter of already-decided contests. He's attempted only 26 field goals all season.

But the reason both president of basketball operations Flip Saunders and coach Rick Adelman concurred Price should stay is twofold: chemistry and potential damage control.

"He is a great guy to have in the locker room," Adelman said. "And if something ever happened -- I hope it doesn't happen -- to our point guards, I wouldn't hesitate to play A.J. You know he can do the job."

The coach's evidence is drawn from Price's performance last season in Washington, where he started 22 games, played in 57 and averaged a career-high 22.4 minutes per contest. He worked under former Wizards personnel man Milt Newton -- now the Timberwolves' general manager -- then, and Newton gave him a ringing endorsement when Minnesota's front office began looking for potential training-camp invitees this offseason.

As he has in each of his five NBA seasons, Price proved his worth during the preseason. In five exhibition appearances, he shot 48.1 percent and dished out 2.4 assists per game while exhibiting command of Adelman's offense. His tireless work during camp in Mankato immediately turned heads within the organization, and the Timberwolves opted to keep him around and cut 2013 second-round draft pick Lorenzo Brown.

The same traits continue to show up even while Price warms the bench, Adelman said.