Archive for the ‘ Minnesota T-Wolves Blog ’ Category

The Philadelphia 76ers are an improved basketball team lately. Still, a loss to them can put some teams over the edge. Not to be over-dramatic; the Minnesota Timberwolves have been searching for an identity all season. But after falling to Philly yesterday, the Timberwolves (12-23 record, tied for 25th in the league) decided today was going the time for some good honest conversation. Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting:

Instead of a regular practice Tuesday, the Timberwolves did a little housecleaning.

Interim coach Sam Mitchell and the players watched some film. Then players and coaches went out onto the practice court, stood in a circle near midcourt, and spent about 90 minutes clearing the air.

“We talked about what we wanted to be as a team,” Mitchell said. “Normally the coach is the one who’s always talking. But we let the players talk. What are the goals for the year, as a team, individually? And I think it was good for us.’’

Mitchell encouraged everyone to talk, both veterans and young players.

Some of the themes?

According to Mitchell, much of the talk was about sacrifice. What sacrifices – both great and small – that each player needs to make to make the team better. The need for the young players to learn to focus for the length of a game was talked about, too.

Porzingis

New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis and Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month, respectively, for games played in December.

This is the second consecutive NBA Rookie of the Month award for Porzingis, who ranked second among East rookies in scoring (12.6 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg) and first among all rookies in blocked shots (2.20 bpg). Porzingis posted four point-rebound double-doubles and blocked three or more shots in six games. He also shot 36.6 percent (15-of-41) from three-point range for the month. During a 91-84 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 23, Porzingis made 4-of-5 from three-point range en route to 23 points and added 13 rebounds and four assists.

karl anthony towns

Towns, who also earns his second straight NBA Rookie of the Month award, led all first-year players in scoring (18.6 ppg) and rebounding (9.5 rpg) and ranked second in blocks (1.56 bpg). He recorded eight point-rebound double-doubles in December and produced eight games with at least 20 points. Towns shot 55.3 percent from the field for the month and made at least half his shots in 14 of 16 games. During a 123-122 overtime win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 9, Towns posted 26 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.

Other nominees for the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month were Charlotte’s Frank Kaminsky, Denver’s Nikola Jokic, the Los Angeles Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell, Miami’s Justise Winslow and Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor.

Andrew Wiggins is averaging 21.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game for the Timberwolves (9-12). Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting that teams have taken notice of Wiggins’ skills and are putting more help defenders around him:

Andrew Wiggins drawing more defensive attention

It happened again to Andrew Wiggins a couple of times Wednesday night.

The Wolves guard got the ball, dribbled into the paint and went to that spin move he has used so effectively this season. But when he turned, there was a wall of Lakers defenders waiting for him.

“I tell our players all the time,” interim coach Sam Mitchell said. “They watch film, too.”

They, in this case, are Wolves opponents. And the film they’ve been watching clearly includes Wiggins, whose game has taken a quantum jump this season.

He has scored in double figures in 18 of his 20 games, scored 20 points or more 11 times, 30 or more three times.

And he is becoming a marked man.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, led by 21.5 ppg from Andrew Wiggins, 16.0 ppg from Karl-Anthony Towns, 13.9 ppg from Zach Lavine, and 13.3 from Kevin Martin, are 0-6 at home and 5-2 on the road. Unusual. Overall, they’re 5-8 and in need of a boost. Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting the latest on Martin, who has started just one of the 12 games he’s played this season:

Kevin Martin moving into Timberwolves starting lineup

Some have been waiting for it for a while, but Sunday Wolves coach Sam Mitchell said he’s ready to make the change. Starting with Monday’s game against winless Philadelphia at Target Center, Mitchell is going to move Kevin Martin into the starting lineup, move Tayshaun Prince to the bench and ratchet up Shabazz Muhammad’s minutes.

“It was never my mentality for Tayshaun to play this amount of minutes,” Mitchell said of Prince, who has started and averaged 22.2 minutes, 3.2 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. “It was just to get us off to a start. I need to increase Bazz’s minutes. He’s been playing well. So I’m going to decrease Tayshaun’s minutes.”

No home wins for Timberwolves yet

Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting on the Timberwolves, who haven’t won a home game yet and host the Detroit Pistons tonight:

One thing becomes clear after talking with a few Timberwolves players after today’s morning shootaround:

This team wants very much to end this zero-for-home thing. The Wolves enter tonight’s game with Detroit at Target Center at 5-7 overall, with all five victories coming on the road. At home the team is 0-5 at home. And while both emotions and injuries might have played into that, it has gotten old quickly.

“I hope tonight is the night,” Andrew Wiggins said.

The Pistons come into the game with an impressive victory over Cleveland Tuesday, a victory that ended a four-game losing streak. That came after Detroit started the season 5-1.

Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that the team will wear a commemorative patch on their jersey during the 2015-16 season in honor of recently passed President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Flip Saunders.

The patch will be worn for the first time on Monday, November 2, as the Timberwolves open the home portion of the 2015-16 season against the Portland Trail Blazers at Target Center. The team will wear the patch for all home and road games for the balance of the season beginning on November 2.

Tragic: Flip Saunders has died

Announcement from the Timberwolves:

It is with extreme sadness that the Minnesota Timberwolves today learned that Phil “Flip” Saunders, who served as the team’s President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach, in addition to being a minority owner of the team, passed away today at age 60.

The organization will follow up with more information as it becomes available.

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has waived guard Lorenzo Brown, center Kleon Penn and guard Nick Wiggins. With the moves, the Wolves training camp roster stands at 15 players.

Brown, originally signed by the Wolves to a 10-day contract on January 28, registered averages of 4.2 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 13.1 minutes over five preseason contests. The 6’5 guard appeared in 29 games last season for the Wolves averaging 4.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 18.9 minutes per game. Brown was Minnesota’s second round selection (52nd overall) in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Penn, signed on September 18, appeared in three preseason games totaling one rebound in nine minutes.

Wiggins was signed by the Wolves on September 18. He played in four preseason contests registering seven points in 14 minutes.

Andrew Wiggins a shooting guard?

Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting interesting stuff on one of the Timberwolves’ most important young talents:

Andrew Wiggins a shooting guard?

In a game gone small, Timberwolves interim coach Sam Mitchell is playing the contrarian.

While playing two point guards in the same lineup becomes more common in the NBA, Mitchell has turned to reigning Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins — all 6-8 of him — to start at shooting guard and be Ricky Rubio’s backcourt partner after an experiment to nurture Zach LaVine at that spot lasted but three preseason games.

While coaches such as Phoenix’s Jeff Hornacek and Dallas’ Rick Carlisle have taken to playing two point guards in recent years, Mitchell likes Wiggins’ move from small forward to shooting guard precisely because of his size and the benefits Mitchell believes it presents on both ends of the court.

“You know the NBA,” Mitchell said. “You’ve got to [create] some matchup problems when you go out there. I like Andrew at the 2 [shooting guard]. I think it gives him an advantage because of his size.”

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has exercised the third-year options on guard Zach LaVine, forward Adreian Payne and forward Andrew Wiggins, along with the fourth-year options on center Gorgui Dieng and forward Shabazz Muhammad.

Dieng, 25, owns career averages of 7.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 22.6 minutes per game over 133 contests, all with Minnesota. The Wolves acquired the draft rights to Dieng, along with Muhammad, from the Utah Jazz on June 27, 2013.

LaVine, 20, posted averages of 10.1 points and 3.6 assists in 24.7 minutes per game over 77 games in his rookie season, eventually being named to the 2014-15 All-Rookie Second Team. Minnesota drafted LaVine with the 13th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Muhammad, 22, has played two seasons with the Wolves, averaging 8.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 75 career contests, including averaging 13.5 points in 22.8 minutes per contest last season. Minnesota acquired the draft rights to Muhammad, along with Dieng, from the Utah Jazz on June 27, 2013.

Payne, 24, averaged 6.7 points and 5.1 rebounds in 32 games last season, including averaging 7.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 29 games with Minnesota. Originally selected with the 15th overall pick by the Hawks in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Wolves acquired him from Atlanta on February 10, 2015.

Wiggins, 20, registered averages of 16.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season en route to being named the 2015 KIA NBA Rookie of the Year. Wiggins was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and was acquired by the Wolves on August 23, 2014.

Future of Timberwolves on display

Here’s the St. Paul Pioneer Press reporting on the young and fun Minnesota Timberwolves:

The future of the Timberwolves was on display in Wednesday’s exhibition opener, with the debut of No. 1 overall draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns and fellow rookie Tyus Jones joining a starting lineup that included talented second-year players Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins.

There were glimpses of potential, but the Wolves showed they still have a long way to go.

After all, Minnesota was playing an offensive juggernaut in the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka combined for 47 points in the Thunder’s 122-99 victory in front of 8,601 at Target Center.

“We found things we need to work on,” said Towns, who had an impressive debut with 18 points, five rebounds and two blocks. “It was kind of bittersweet. I wanted to do a lot more on both sides of the basketball. I’m just getting my feet wet.”

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 www.timberwolves.com 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.

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