Archive for the ‘ Minnesota T-Wolves Blog ’ Category

Here’s the St. Paul Pioneer Press reporting on Timberwolves dunking phenom Zach LaVine, who wants you to know that he’s… more than a dunking phenom:

Zach LaVine wants to prove he is a shooter, too

There’s no question LaVine loves to dunk — and his above-the-rim highlights have made him a fan favorite all over the world, including China, where he ran an event this summer.

But the 6-foot-5 high flier could be the Wolves’ starting shooting guard this season because he’s more than just a dunker.

“People put a label on me that I’m just a driver, but coming out of high school I was a good shooter,” LaVine said.

“I was second in UCLA history for threes put up and made as a freshman. So I don’t know why people say I can’t shoot the ball for. I feel like I’ve always been able to shoot the ball.”

Timberwolves waive Anthony Bennett

Timberwolves waive Anthony Bennett

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has waived forward Anthony Bennett.

With the move, Minnesota’s roster stands at 18 players.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, it was a mutually agreed-upon contract buyout “will save the team a little more than $2 million on the $5.8 million they owed him for this coming season.

“In speaking with Anthony and his representatives over the past few days, we came to the conclusion that this was the best outcome for both parties,” said Timberwolves general manager Milt Newton. ‘When you look at our team, our deepest position is probably power forward. This move balances out our roster while also allowing Anthony another opportunity in the NBA. He has a lot of talent and his play this summer internationally made this a difficult decision for us.

“During his short time here Anthony has carried himself with class and represented the franchise in a very professional manner. We thank him for his positive attitude and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”

Acquired by the Wolves on August 23, 2014 as part of a three-team trade with Cleveland and Philadelphia, Bennett appeared in 57 games with Minnesota last season averaging 5.2 points in 15.7 minutes per game.

Anthony Bennett has gone from the first overall pick in the NBA Draft to an afterthought. It’s too early to totally write him off as an NBA player, but there’s no reason for optimism yet. He needs to emerge, and soon. Here’s the National Post reporting:

Anthony Bennett needs to prove NBA value soon

Anthony Bennett has been a disappointment thus far in his NBA career. It goes beyond the stigma of him being the first-overall pick in 2013, although that certainly is the biggest factor when it comes to public perception.

Bennett has been an unproductive NBA player, full stop. In his rookie season, he was out of shape thanks to off-season shoulder surgery, emerging as a lost player who endured an embarrassing scoreless streak. His second season, in Minnesota, was a bit better. Still, he missed 25 games, including a stretch due to an ankle injury, and fell out of favour with coach Flip Saunders. It was understandable, as Bennett remained totally unreliable on both ends of the floor.

Still, Monday’s news that Bennett might be on his way out of Minnesota in return for nothing still qualifies as a surprise.

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team is hosting a free open scrimmage at Target Center on Monday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Wolves’ previous open scrimmage this summer, fans will need to reserve their seats in advance exclusively at starting at 10 a.m. on Sept. 23. A maximum of six free tickets are available per order.

The scrimmage tips off the 2015 Timberwolves Training Camp and features the team’s full roster. Target Center doors open at 6 p.m., and concessions and merchandise stands will be open. Season members will have access to a VIP seating area.

Timberwolves sign Kleon Penn and Nick Wiggins

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has signed center Kleon Penn and guard Nick Wiggins.

We assume these are non-guaranteed contracts that merely bring these players to training camp. 

Penn, 29, most recently played in 45 games with Vaqueros de Bayamon in Puerto Rico, averaging 4.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 18.4 minutes per game. Penn, a Virgin Islands native, recently won a gold medal in June with the Virgin Islands during the Caribbean Basketball Confederation Championships, a team that interim head coach Sam Mitchell led. Penn finished his college career at McNeese State in 2009.

Wiggins, 24, appeared in three games for the Timberwolves 2015 NBA Las Vegas Summer League entry, averaging 4.0 points in 11.0 minutes per game. Wiggins, 6-6, spent parts of last season with the Idaho Stampede in the NBA D-League, averaging 9.8 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. Wiggins, the older brother of Andrew Wiggins, started the year in Germany playing with the Tigers Tubingen. Wiggins played two seasons at Wichita State University and went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Penn will wear No. 50 while Wiggins will don No. 6.

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that Sam Mitchell will serve as interim head coach while Flip Saunders takes a leave of absence from his duties as Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations. In Saunders’ absence, Timberwolves general manager Milt Newton will assume an increased role in the day-to-day and strategic operations of the basketball department.

Saunders, who had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma earlier this summer, recently experienced complications from his completed treatments. Recently, he was admitted to a local area hospital where he remains at this time while undergoing further testing and treatment.

The following are statements from Timberwolves Owner Glen Taylor, General Manager Milt Newton, and Interim Head Coach Sam Mitchell:

Glen Taylor, Timberwolves Majority Owner
“First and foremost, my immediate concern is for the Saunders family and the health of Flip. Our priority right now is for him to regain his strength so that he can be 100 percent when he returns to his Timberwolves duties. In the interim, I remain confident in the direction of our team. I have known Sam Mitchell for a number of years, back to his playing days in Minnesota. He is a former NBA Head Coach of the Year. I have no doubt he will get the most out of our players and will continue to serve as a great mentor to our young and talented players as interim head coach.”

Milt Newton, Timberwolves General Manager
“Flip has our full support and backing as he takes time to focus on his health. In the interim, we are confident in Sam and his ability to make this a seamless transition for our players. Sam has a long history with both Flip and Glen and we don’t anticipate much to change in terms of our basketball philosophy.”

Sam Mitchell, Timberwolves Interim Head Coach
“My thoughts right now are with Flip and the Saunders family. In the interim, I am confident that I can continue to build the foundation that Flip has established. We have a team blended with talented young guys and experienced veterans. We’re excited to see how this team comes together in training camp.”

Video: Ricky Rubio season highlights

Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio only played 22 games in the 2014-15 season, and didn’t score much, but he still averaged a very impressive 8.8 assists per outing. His passing is fun to watch. Enjoy these video highlights:

Timberwolves sign Tayshaun Prince

Timberwolves sign Tayshaun Prince

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has signed veteran forward Tayshaun Prince.

“We’re excited to add a veteran like Tayshaun,” said Timberwolves president of basketball operations and head coach Flip Saunders. “Having coached Tayshaun for three seasons in Detroit, I know that his experience and defensive mindset will benefit our younger players. He also has shown that he can shoot from long distance, which will help our ability to stretch the floor.”

Prince give the Wolves yet another highly experienced veteran to help teach the tricks of the trade to young building blocks like Andrew Wiggins.

Prince, a 6-9 forward, averaged 7.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in 24.1 minutes per game over 58 contests between Memphis, Boston and Detroit last season. He began the season with the Grizzlies, appearing in 26 games before being acquired by Boston on Jan. 12 in a three-team trade. Prince played nine games with the Celtics before finishing the season in Detroit after a three-team deal on Feb. 19.

Prince spent the first 10-plus seasons of his 12-year career with the Pistons before being traded to Memphis on Jan. 30, 2013 in a three-team trade. He has career averages of 11.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 940 games. Prince’s played in all 82 games in six consecutive seasons (2003-04 – 2008-09), averaging a career-high 14.7 points on a career-best 48.7 percent from the field in 2004-05. He played under current Wolves head coach Flip Saunders from 2005-08.

Originally selected with the 23rd overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in the 2002 NBA Draft, Prince has appeared in 140 playoff games with Detroit and Memphis, averaging 11.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in 35.6 minutes. He averaged a career-high 16.4 points in 18 games for the Pistons in the 2006 NBA Playoffs and averaged 9.9 points and 6.0 rebounds as Detroit won the 2004 NBA Championship.

Timberwolves sign Andre Miller

Timberwolves sign Andre Miller

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has signed veteran guard Andre Miller.

Miller, a 6-2 guard, averaged 4.4 points and 3.5 assists in 15.5 minutes per game over 81 contests between Washington and Sacramento last season. He began the season in Washington, appearing in 51 games before being acquired by Sacramento on Feb. 19 in exchange for Ramon Sessions.

Over his 16-year career, Miller has played for seven organizations (Cleveland, L.A. Clippers, Denver, Philadelphia, Portland, Washington and Sacramento) and averaged 12.8 points and 6.7 assists over 1,265 games. Between 1999-00 and 2012-13, he played in all but six contests over a span of 14 seasons, including playing every single game in 10 different seasons. With Cleveland in 2001-02, he led the NBA in both assists (882) and assists per game (10.9), both franchise records.

Originally selected with the 8th overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1998 NBA Draft, Miller ranks first among active players and ninth in NBA history in assists (8,437). He also ranks T-5th among active players in games played (1,265) and ninth in minutes played (39,807). Miller is one of just eight players in NBA history to tally at least 16,000 points and 8,000 assists in a career.

Andre Miller to join Timberwolves

Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting that crafty, talented super-veteran point guard Andre Miller will be joining the squad:

Andre Miller to join Timberwolves

It was less than two weeks ago that Flip Saunders, Wolves president of basketball operations, said his team might be in the market for a veteran point guard.

He has arrived.

A source confirmed a report that Wolves had come to an agreement on a one-year contract with veteran Andre Miller, who visited the Wolves on Wednesday.

It marks an evolution in Saunders’ thinking. Immediately after moving up to draft former Apple Valley star Tyus Jones late in the first round of the draft, Saunders sounded like he might be happy with Jones as Ricky Rubio’s backup. But the fact that Rubio is coming off ankle surgery and Jones is a rookie ultimately changed Saunders’ mind.

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has signed reigning Euroleague Most Valuable Player forward Nemanja Bjelica (nay-MON-yah, bee-ELL-leets-zah). Bjelica, originally acquired in a draft-day trade with the Washington Wizards in 2010, was selected with the 35th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Bjelica, a 6-10 forward, was named the Euroleague MVP this past season with Fenerbahce Ulker in Turkey, averaging 11.5 points and 8.2 rebounds in 63 combined games between Euroleague play and the Turkish Basketball League (TBL). The 27-year-old from Serbia shot 54.1% from the floor and 37.4% from three-point range, including 39.3% from long distance during the TBL season. Bjelica was named to the 2014-15 All-Euroleague First Team, and the 2014-15 Euroleague March MVP. Before joining Fenerbahce in 2013-14, Bjelica spent three seasons with the Spanish team Laboral Kutxa Vitoria.

A member of the Serbian National Team, Bjelica won silver medals at both the 2014 World Championship and 2009 European Championship. He also played with the team at the 2011 and 2013 European Championships.

He will wear No. 88 for the Wolves this season.

Timberwolves trade Chase Budinger to Pacers

chase budinger

The Indiana Pacers announced Sunday they have acquired forward Chase Budinger from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for forward Damjan Rudez.

Budinger, 6-7, 218, has six seasons of NBA experience. He was originally drafted by Detroit in the second round (44th overall) of the 2009 NBA Draft. He was traded on draft night to Houston where he played three seasons before being traded to Minnesota in 2012. He has averaged 8.5 points per game in his NBA career.

“We’re very glad to have Chase,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird. “He’s a guy we think will fit in our rotation. He can shoot and drive to the basket, which works with how we want to play. Damjan was a special guy. He was great to have as part of our team. He will be missed by all.”

Rudez, 29, played one season with the Pacers averaging 4.8 points on 45.2% shooting, including a 40.6% mark from the three-point line. The 6-10 Croatia native played in 68 contests, registering 15.4 minutes per game. The Pacers signed Rudez as a free agent on July 11, 2014. Prior to coming to the NBA, Rudez played parts of eight seasons internationally in Spain, Croatia and Slovenia.

Here’s the St. Paul Pioneer Press reporting on a key member of the Minnesota Timberwolves youth movement — Zach LaVine, who averaged 10.1 points and 3.6 assists in 24.7 minutes per game last season, shooting 42.2 percent and may look to score more in 2015-16:

zach lavine

Zach LaVine admits he’s not very good at paintball.

In fact, the second-year Timberwolves guard has a scar on his neck to prove it after an intense introduction to the sport while spending the July 4 weekend with friends.

LaVine has been open to trying new things this summer. That also means playing more shooting guard for the Wolves.

“That’s my thinking; I played a little bit more (shooting guard) today,” he said after the first minicamp practice Monday. “You know I like to score.”

With Minnesota acquiring point guard Tyus Jones from Cleveland in a draft-day trade last month, LaVine’s future as a floor leader appeared to be numbered.

Nemanja Bjelica headed to Timberwolves

It’s always fun to see how players who have achieved success in the Euroleague wind up doing in the NBA. It’s an adjustment. And in general, even within the same league, a player’s role in one system isn’t nearly as successful in another.

As for the Timberwolves, here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting

The Turkish team Fenerbahce Ulker overnight announced that Euroleague MVP Nemanja Bjelica has exercised an opt clause in his contract to leave for the NBA,

That clears the way for the Wolves to sign him, five years after David Kahn drafted him 35th overall in the 2010 NBA draft.

Expect Bjelica to sign a three-year deal worth at least $12 million, possibly more. The Wolves will use a good portion of their mid-level exception to sign him.

He was under contract with Fenerbahce until the clock struck midnight last night.

Timberwolves select Karl-Anthony Towns first in 2015 NBA Draft

The Minnesota Timberwolves tonight selected forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns from Kentucky with the first overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Towns, a 6-11 forward/center, averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.26 blocks and 21.1 minutes in 39 games (all starts) for the Wildcats this past season and was named SEC Freshman of the Year and First Team All-SEC. He shot 56.6 percent from the field, 81.3 percent from the free-throw line and recorded a team-best eight double-doubles. Towns was a Consensus Second Team All-American and was named NCAA Midwest Region Most Valuable Player after leading Kentucky to the Final Four. He scored a career-high 25 points, on 10-of-13 shooting, to lead the Wildcats past Notre Dame in the Elite Eight.

A native of Piscataway, New Jersey, Towns was a three time first-team All-State selection while playing for St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, New Jersey. He was named Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year in 2014 after averaging 20.9 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.2 blocks and leading St. Joseph to a 30-2 record and a state title. Towns shot 66.1 percent from the field and 82.2 percent from the free-throw line as a senior. He made 127 three pointers over his three-year high school career.

The 19-year-old Towns has been a member of the Dominican Republic National Team since 2012 and averaged 2.6 points and 2.1 rebounds in FIBA play.

Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune quoting Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders on the value of top NBA draft prospect Karl-Anthony Towns:

karl-anthony towns

Most expect the Wolves to take Karl-Anthony Towns with the first pick. And while Flip wasn’t saying who he’s taking, he did extol Towns’ virtues when asked about the Kentucky center.

Here’s what he had to say when asked about Towns’ best attributes: “Everyone talks about his versatility,” Saunders said. “He’s known right now [as] more of a defensive player. He’s very much underrated offensively, I think, because of playing [in Kentucky coach John Calipari’s] situation. By far, he’s the best pick-and-roll defensive big man in the draft. If you base things on it analytically, he’s the top analytical player, everything he’s done, on a per-minute basis. There’s a reason that people are looking at him as being one of the top players in the draft.’’

Timberwolves land first pick in 2015 NBA Draft

The Minnesota Timberwolves had the best chance to win the first pick in the 2015 NBA Draft at Tuesday’s Draft Lottery in New York, but by no means was it a guarantee. Yet they did it. Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting:

The Wolves, who very much need to bolster their front line, are expected by many to choose between two post men with the top pick, either Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns or Duke center Jahlil Okafor. Also Saunders, in a post-lottery press conference, said that is not necessarily the case. Saunders said no decision has been made on which player the Wolves want or will take. The process of evaluation and workouts will continue going forward.

And while the Wolves technically didn’t improve their position – they, of course, could not – they kept their position. It is the first time in 19 trips to the lottery that the Wolves have emerged with the top pick.

With the worst record during the regular season, the Wolves had the best chance (25 percent) of getting the first overall pick. That said, the odds were 3-to-1 against that happening. Minnesota had a 21.5 percent chance at the second pick, a 17.8 percent chance at No. 3 and a 35.7 chance at the fourth pick.

That meant a 64.28 percent chance at the top three picks.

Andrew Wiggins wins 2014-2015 NBA Rookie of Year

Andrew Wiggins wins 2014-2015 NBA Rookie of Year

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins, who led all first-year players in scoring, is the recipient of the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy as the 2014-15 NBA Rookie of the Year, the NBA announced today. He is the first Canadian-born winner of the award and the first player in the Timberwolves’ 26-year history to earn the honor.

Wiggins, 20, received 110 of 130 first-place votes and 604 total points from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. The Chicago Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic finished second with 335 points (14 first-place votes), and Nerlens Noel of the Philadelphia 76ers was third with 141 points (three first-place votes). Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.

Wiggins averaged 16.9 points, the second-best mark by a rookie in Minnesota history, behind Christian Laettner’s 18.2 points in 1992-93. He appeared in all 82 games and ranked fourth in the NBA with a rookie-leading 36.2 minutes, the highest average ever by a Timberwolves rookie. The 6-8 Wiggins led or tied for the Minnesota lead in scoring a team-high 25 times and reached the 20-point mark in 31 games. He finished ninth in the NBA in free throws made (354) and sixth in free throws attempted (466), good for 76.0 percent. Wiggins also averaged 4.6 rebounds and 1.05 steals, both top-10 marks among rookies.

The top pick of the 2014 NBA Draft presented by State Farm, Wiggins was named the Kia NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month in October/November, December, January and February. His best statistical month came in January, when he averaged 19.8 points on 47.1 percent shooting in 17 games, including a season-high 33 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who drafted Wiggins and traded him to Minnesota on Aug. 23, 2014. Wiggins finished the season strong, scoring at least 20 points in 10 of his last 13 games.

Ricky Rubio undergoes surgery on left ankle

Ricky Rubio undergoes surgery on left ankle

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced guard Ricky Rubio underwent diagnostic arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle. The surgery was performed this morning by Dr. Richard Ferkel of Southern California Orthopedic Institute in Van Nuys, California.

Rubio is expected to make a full recovery this summer.

The point guard is a flashy, exciting player — when actually on the court. Which sadly was rare this season. Rubio played just 22 games, scoring a mere 10.8 ppg on 35.6% shooting, along with 8.8 apg and 1.7 spg. As nice a playmaker that he is, Rubio’s value in the league has a ceiling on it as long as his shooting remains a problem.

Nikola Pekovic had Achilles surgery this morning

The Minnesota Timberwolves announced that center Nikola Pekovic underwent a successful debridement and repair of his right Achilles this morning. The surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Anderson at Ortho Carolina in Charlotte, North Carolina. Pekovic will be sidelined indefinitely. An update on his progress will be provided when appropriate.

Pekovic played in 31 games this season, averaging 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest. The five-year veteran holds career averages of 12.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

The Wolves are 16-61 through Tuesday’s games, which is the second worst record in the league. The NBA’s regular season ends in one week, on Wednesday, April 15.

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