Archive for the ‘ Minnesota T-Wolves Blog ’ Category

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.

Timberwolves sign Arinze Onuaku

Timberwolves sign Arinze Onuaku

The Minnesota Timberwolves have signed forward Arinze Onuaku (Ah-rin-zay On-ooh-ah-koo) for the remainder of this season. The Timberwolves were granted an NBA hardship exception for a 16th roster spot due to having four players out due to injury.

Onuaku, 27, averaged 17.5 points, on 62.2% shooting, and 12.2 rebounds in 41 games this season for the Canton Charge of the NBA D-League. He was named to the NBADL All-Star Game for the third consecutive season. Onuaku was signed by the Indiana Pacers on September 5, 2014 after playing with their NBA Summer League team. He was waived by the Pacers on October 25, 2014.

The 6-10 forward played in three games for the New Orleans Pelicans and two games for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013-14, averaging 0.6 points and 1.6 rebounds in those five games. In May of 2014, he joined the Chongqing Flying Dragons for the 2014 Chinese NBL, and averaged 28.6 points and 14.8 rebounds in 19 games. Onuaku averaged 14.8 points, on 62.8% shooting, and 10.1 rebounds for Canton in 2013-14 and 12.6 points and 9.5 rebounds for the Charge in 2012-13.

Onuaku went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft after a four-year career with Syracuse University where he averaged 9.2 points and 6.0 rebounds in 134 games. He finished his collegiate career first on Syracuse’s all-time field goal percentage list at 64.8% (540-for-833).

Nikola Pekovic needs surgery, season is over

nba blog

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced center Nikola Pekovic will undergo a debridement and repair of his right Achilles. The surgery will be performed on Wednesday, April 8 by Dr. Robert Anderson at Ortho Carolina in Charlotte, North Carolina. Pekovic will be sidelined for the remainder of the season. 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.

Timberwolves sign guard Sean Kilpatrick to 10-day contract

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has signed guard Sean Kilpatrick to a 10-day contract. The Timberwolves were granted an NBA hardship exception for a 16th roster spot due to having four players out due to injury.

Kilpatrick, 25, has averaged 13.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 42 games this season with Delaware and Santa Cruz of the NBADL. Kilpatrick, 6-4, went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft after a four-year career at the University of Cincinnati. Kilpatrick finished his career with averages of 15.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 140 contests, earning Second-Team All-America honors his senior season. Kilpatrick was signed by the Golden State Warriors on October 20, 2014 and waived on October 24, 2014 after playing with the Philadelphia 76ers on their 2014 NBA Summer League team.

Gary Neal scores 27, Wolves upset Blazers

Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting on a nice home win for the Timberwolves — just their 14th victory of the season. Neal has only played six games so far this season, averaging 11.7 points in 26.3 minutes per outing:

Gary Neal’s hand seemed just fine.

The Wolves guard suffered a right hand contusion during Friday’s practice but served as a spark off the bench in the 121-113 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night at Target Center. Neal finished with 27 points, his fourth consecutive game scoring in double figures.

“I was a little bit nervous before [Friday], but he should probably get his hand hit before every game,” Wolves coach Flip Saunders said.

Up five with eight minutes left, Neal scored 11 consecutive points, extending the Wolves’ lead to 98-93 with 5 minutes, 45 seconds left. The stretch ended with Neal drilling an off-balance jumper that was tightly contested by Dorell Wright. Then Blazers guard Steve Blake bit on Neal’s pump fake, creating a wide open jump shot that forced Blazers coach Terry Stotts to call timeout.

Timberwolves add Justin Hamilton, waive Glenn Robinson III

Timberwolves add Justin Hamilton

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has claimed center Justin Hamilton off waivers. He’s bench material and adds a bit of frontcourt depth, especially while Nikola Pekovic isn’t at 100% health.

Hamilton, 24, has played in 24 games (five starts) this season with the Miami Heat, averaging 2.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in 12.0 minutes per game. In his second year out of Louisiana State University, the 7-0 center played in eight games last season for Miami and the Charlotte Bobcats, averaging 3.3 points and 0.9 rebounds per game. Hamilton was originally drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 45th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Hamilton was traded from the Heat to the New Orleans Pelicans on February 19, 2015. He did not appear in a game with the Pelicans before being waived on March 3, 2015.

Robinson III appeared in 25 games this season with Minnesota, averaging 1.2 points in 4.3 minutes per contest. The Wolves drafted the 6-7 forward with the 40th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft.

In a subsequent move, the team has waived forward Glenn Robinson III.

The Wolves roster stands at 15 players.

Kevin Garnett, Flip Saunders may team up and try to buy Timberwolves

Here’s the St. Paul Pioneer Press reporting on a fun possibility in Minnesota:

Kevin Garnett, Flip Saunders may team up and try to buy Timberwolves

The contract extension Kevin Garnett, 38, will sign with the Timberwolves this summer will be for two years. During that period, Garnett and Wolves president-coach Flip Saunders are expected to try to form a group to buy the team from Glen Taylor.

Garnett has amassed more than $325 million in salaries during 20 seasons in the NBA. Saunders, who turns 60 on Monday, has made an estimated $40 million during 17 seasons as a NBA coach.

The Wolves, for whom Taylor paid $88 million in 1994, were valued at $625 million last January by Forbes. Taylor, who turns 74 in April, is amenable to taking in more limited partners. But he’s not interested in selling his team until he finds out what the Atlanta Hawks, who are for sale and currently are taking bids, end up going for.

Shabazz Muhammad out for season with finger injury

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that forward/guard Shabazz Muhammad will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a ruptured ligament in his middle finger (left hand). The surgery will be performed Monday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The injury occurred during practice on Wednesday, February 18. Muhammad played 12:43 last night vs. Phoenix, scoring seven points.

In 38 games this season, 13 starts, Muhammad posted averages of 13.5 points, on 48.9 percent shooting, and 4.1 rebounds per game. Muhammad participated in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star Weekend in New York, totaling 10 points and five rebounds for the U.S. Team.

Kevin Garnett, back in Minnesota

Kevin Garnett, back in Minnesota

Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting on Timberwolves activity on the day of the NBA trade deadline:

Kevin Garnett, back in Minnesota

Thursday’s NBA trade deadline came and went … and veterans Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger and Gary Neal all still were present.

The Wolves swapped Thaddeus Young for Kevin Garnett, but made no other moves, meaning Martin is, as coach Flip Saunders, here to stay.

So, too, are Budinger and Neal, or at least until each is possibly bought out in time to sign with a playoff contender by March 1.

Saunders maintained he wouldn’t trade Martin because his scoring ability, veteran sense and efficiency made him too valuable to do so. And he didn’t, even though national reports said he was on the market.

“Flip and I had good laughs about what was being said,” Martin said. “I was pretty certain I wasn’t being traded from talking with him. He just told me I had a better chance getting hit by a car walking across the street.”

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has signed guard Lorenzo Brown for the remainder of the season.

Brown, 24, has appeared in five games (one start) with Minnesota, averaging 3.2 points, 3.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 19.6 minutes per game. He played a career-high 47:55 against Cleveland on Jan. 31, dishing out a career-high nine assists.

Originally drafted by Minnesota with the 52nd pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Brown appeared in three preseason games before being waived on October 25, 2013. He signed with Philadelphia a month later, averaging 2.5 points and 1.6 assists in 8.6 minutes over 26 games.

Brown started this season in the NBA D-League, playing in 19 games (17 starts) with the Grand Rapids Drive and averaging 16.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. In his career, Brown has appeared in 39 games (31 starts) in the D-League and holds career averages of 17.1 points, 5.1 assists and 4.8 rebounds in 31.5 minutes per game.

Gorgui Dieng interview

Gorgui Dieng interview

A few quick words with Gorgui Dieng of the Minnesota Timberwolves:

Gorgui Dieng interview

Q. Thinking back to when you were a kid, picking up a basketball for the first time, do you remember that, when this sport kind of hit you and that was your thing?

GORGUI DIENG: I think I started playing at 16. I played basketball late.

Q. How did it happen? How did you start?

GORGUI DIENG: My sister and my brother, they were playing basketball. And I watched  basketball court in the soccer field was like (Inaudible) they said that’s a good sport. Because, you know, they don’t want  I didn’t know. One day I guess I started paying attention more to the game and it started getting fun.

Q. And growing up like that, starting late, did you ever think that the NBA was actually a possibility for you?

GORGUI DIENG: Yes. When I went to basketball camp, I got a chance to meet Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh. We were pretty much  they were a little bit taller than me. And they were like, wow, I can be just that  excuse me, I believe in it and I made it.

Q. How happy are you now waking up maybe in a different hotel out of home, wherever you are, realizing you’re an NBA player, making money playing basketball?

GORGUI DIENG: I think it’s just luck. I’m maybe not the best player coming from Senegal, but I’m just lucky to be that guy.

Timberwolves trade Mo Williams and Troy Daniels to Hornets for Gary Neal

Timberwolves trade Mo Williams and Troy Daniels to Hornets for Gary Neal

Charlotte Hornets General Manager Rich Cho announced today that the team has acquired guards Mo Williams and Troy Daniels, along with cash considerations, from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for guard Gary Neal and Miami’s 2019 second-round draft pick. In addition, the Hornets have released Elliot Williams from his 10-day contract. The Hornets roster remains at 15 players.

“We are excited to be adding two quality players to our organization,” Cho said. “Mo Williams is a proven NBA player who gives us additional versatility and depth in the backcourt, both while Kemba Walker is out and after Kemba returns. Troy Daniels is an outstanding shooter who we are already familiar with from having had him in our training camp last season.”

The 47th overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, Williams is in his 12th NBA season. He has played in 750 career games for the Utah Jazz, Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves. An Eastern Conference All-Star in 2008-09, Williams has career averages of 13.3 points, 5.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 29.7 minutes, while shooting .436 from the field (3758-8611), .382 from beyond the three-point line (998-2611) and .869 from the free-throw line (1442-1660). He ranks sixth among active players in career free-throw percentage and 24th in NBA history.

Williams played in 41 games for Minnesota this season, starting 19, with averages of 12.2 points, 6.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 28.0 minutes. He shot .403 from the field (180-447), .347 from beyond the three-point line (59-170) and .851 from the free-throw line (80-94). Williams scored in double figures in 23 of the 41 games, including eight games of 20 points or more, and handed out double-figure assists nine times, tallying eight double-doubles. He was named Western Conference Player of the Week for Jan. 12-18 after scoring a career-high 52 points on Jan. 13 at Indiana.

Troy Daniels

Daniels is in his second NBA season, having played in 41 career games for Houston and Minnesota after not being selected in the 2013 NBA Draft. Daniels, who was in training camp with Charlotte prior to the 2013-14 NBA season, has a career average of 3.4 points on .358 shooting from the field (49-137), including .355 from beyond the three-point line (38-107). He began this season in Houston before being traded to Minnesota on Dec. 19 as part of a three-team deal.

Daniels also saw action in 48 games last season for Houston’s NBA D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, where he was selected for the D-League All-Star Game and earned Third Team All-D-League honors. He averaged 21.5 points, 4.9 assists and 4.6 rebounds in 35.4 minutes, while shooting .422 from the field (232-766), .402 from beyond the three-point line (240-599) and .816 from the free-throw line (146-179). Daniels led the D-League in three-point field goals and three-point field goal attempts and ranked third in total points scored.

gary neal

Currently in his fifth NBA season, Neal was acquired last February in a trade with Milwaukee. He played in 65 games for Charlotte, averaging 10.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 22.1 minutes. Neal saw action in 43 games for the Hornets this season, with averages of 9.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 21.7 minutes.

Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting on the Timberwolves, who are happy to have flashy point guard Ricky Rubio back, even if his ability to contribute is still limited as he regains full health:

Not surprisingly, Ricky Rubio was held out of Sunday’s game against the Pistons. Wolves coach Flip Saunders said that Rubio, who has played in three games since returning from a severe left ankle sprain, has not been cleared to play in back-to-back games until at least after the All-Star break. Rubio will play Monday against Atlanta at Target Center.

Saunders said the rough-and-tumble game Rubio had in Friday’s victory over Memphis made the decision to sit Rubio an easy one.

“He got his knee hit a little bit, and his ankle re-twisted a little bit,” Saunders said. “We thought it best to give him a couple days off.”

Both Rubio and Shabazz Muhammad are expected to play Monday. Muhammad, who is coming back from an oblique muscle strain, missed his 16th game Sunday.

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