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The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has acquired forward Luc Mbah a Moute (BAH-ah MOO-tay) from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for forward Derrick Williams.

“We are excited to acquire a solid veteran player in Luc Mbah a Moute,” said Flip Saunders, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations. “Luc is known as one of the premier defensive players in the league with an ability to guard multiple positions. He adds a lot of energy, grit and a high basketball IQ to our team. We thank Derrick for his contributions to our organization and wish him well in Sacramento.”

“We’re excited to acquire a player with Derrick’s skillset,” said Kings General Manager Pete D’Alessandro. “He will add size, length and serve as a scoring threat in our frontcourt. We also want to thank Luc for his contributions during the short time he was a King. We wish him the best.”

Mbah a Moute, a 6-8 forward, has averaged 6.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game over parts of six seasons with Milwaukee and most recently Sacramento. After the Bucks matched an offer sheet from the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 13, 2011, Mbah a Moute was traded by Milwaukee to the Kings on July 12, 2013 in exchange for two second-round picks. Today’s trade reunites Mbah a Moute with Kevin Love, as the pair led UCLA to a Final Four run in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

Williams averaged 10.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game over 2+ seasons with the Wolves. The 6-8 forward is averaging 4.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game this season.

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After hot start, Timberwolves cool off

Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune with an update on the Timberwolves:

ricky rubio

After a 5-2 start that provided their long-suffering hope for the playoffs and perhaps even a 50-victory season, the Timberwolves now are 8-7 and headed to Indianapolis on Monday to play a Pacers team that shares the NBA’s best record.

They have lost three of their past four games and five of their last seven. They are 6-2 at home but are 2-5 away from Target Center and have lost their last four on the road.

A challenging November schedule in which they will play a franchise-record 18 games by month’s end hasn’t helped. Neither have injuries to key reserves Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf that have exposed weaknesses in the team’s depth.

Is it time to worry?

“We’re fine,” Wolves veteran guard Kevin Martin said after Saturday’s 112-101 loss at Houston. “We’re a solid team right now. We’ve got some work to do. It’s a long season. Things will start to work in our favor. Everybody goes through tough stretches. We just have to weather the storm.”

The Brooklyn Nets are in Minnesota, where they will play the Timberwolves tonight. Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune blog:

Kevin Garnett says good things about Timberwolves

Garnett had nice things to say about the Wolves, calling Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love one of the best 1-2 punches in the league. He called the Wolves “electrifying.’’

“They play with a real fast pace,” Garnett said. “Kevin Love is in an unbelievable groove…. They’re playing with a lot of confidence. And trying to slow any of these guys down is going to be a task for all of us tonight.’’

But Garnett deflected any questions about where he is at in his career. When asked if he has contemplated retirement after this season, he said, “Next question.” A question about whether he could see a scenario in which he finished his career in a Wolves uniform got the same response.

Indeed, Garnett said, he is not thinking much about the past or the future. He’s worried about the present. Namely, trying to get the Nets back on track. “You deal with reality,” he said. “You deal with the current (situation). I don’t think outside of whatever I’m doing at the time. And the focus needs to be (there). ‘’

Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune blog on Chase Budinger, who is still out injured:

Chase Budinger still working to return for Timberwolves

Chase Budinger was back on the Target Center court Monday, taking shots.

But, at this point, that’s about all he’s doing, at least as far as basketball is concerned. Budinger, the Timberwolves forward, is still working his way back from Sept. 30 surgery on the same right knee he had work done on a season ago.

The good news is that this second procedure was not as extensive, and he should be back more quickly than he was last year. Budinger originally injured the meniscus in the knee on Nov. 10, 2012 in Chicago, and didn’t return to action until March 21, 2013. He hopes to be back more quickly this time, but no timetable has been set for his return.

Kevin Love is playing like an upper-level NBA All-Star this season. A player worthy of league MVP consideration. It’s great to watch. Here’s the St. Paul Pioneer Press on some numbers:

Kevin Love

After breaking his hand twice and missing 64 games last season, Kevin Love has come back with a vengeance.

The Timberwolves power forward registered six assists, eight rebounds and 33 points to pace a 124-95 pasting of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night and became the first player in NBA history with 240 points, 125 rebounds and 45 assists over his team’s first nine games.

Love’s play has elicited comparisons to that of Moses Malone and a few other former stars.

“To be honest, I try not to pay attention to all that,” Love said after practice Thursday. “It’s definitely flattering to hear those names — guys I grew up either watching or studying tape of, or just trying to emulate in my back yard. But more than anything, I’m just excited about winning.”

Timberwolves lose close game to Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers are considered one of the best teams in the Western conference, and the Minnesota Timberwolves probably deserve to be in that conversation as well. So this was an early-season matchup worth watching. Here’s how it went down, as per the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Kevin Love

In January 2012, the Timberwolves danced off the Staples Center floor while star Kevin Love raised his arms out in defiance after his long three-point shot beat the Los Angeles Clippers at the final buzzer before a national ESPN audience.

On Monday, he held his head with both hands in anguish after his tying putback layup at the rim came up short and bounced back to him to end a 109-107 loss to the Clippers at another final buzzer.

The night before inside the very same arena, the Wolves celebrated a rout of the once-mighty Lakers that ended a six-year, 22-game losing streak to the 16-time NBA champions.

This time, the Wolves rallied twice in the final five minutes against the new glamour NBA team in town only to watch their chance to force overtime disappear not once, but twice in the final two seconds when putback attempts by both Love and Nikola Pekovic wouldn’t go.

No, Kevin Love has no plans to retire from basketball and try this out, but Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is a fan of Timberwolves forward Kevin Love’s throwing arm. Here’s the Fort Worth Star-Telegram blog:

Kevin Love

From Rick Carlisle’s standpoint, Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love could probably have a pro career with the Minnesota Vikings if he wanted it.

“The guy can throw a chest pass 100 yards,” the Dallas Mavericks’ coach said after Friday’s shoot around. “He should be an NFL quarterback and can throw chest passes to the receivers.”

One player well known for his chest passes was Wes Unseld, who led the Washington Bullets to the 1978 NBA title. Carlisle sees some Unseld in Love.

“I remember Wes Unseld,” Carlisle said. “Unfortunately, that’s how old I am.”

The Philadelphia 76ers’ Michael Carter-Williams and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love were today named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Tuesday, Oct. 29, through Sunday, Nov. 3.

Carter-Williams is only the second player (Shaquille O’Neal, 1992) to earn the honor to begin his rookie season. The 11th overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, Carter-Williams helped guide the Sixers to a 3-0 start, which included wins over the defending champion Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls. In his first three NBA games, Carter-Williams averaged 20.7 points and team highs of 9.0 assists and 4.3 steals. In his NBA debut on Oct. 30, a 114-110 home win over the Heat, Carter-Williams recorded 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds. The nine steals were the most by a rookie in his NBA debut, while the 12 assists represented the second most for a player in his first NBA game (Buffalo’s Ernie DiGregorio dished 14 assists in his NBA debut in 1973).

Love led Minnesota to a 3-0 mark, the second time in franchise history the Timberwolves have opened the season with at least three straight wins. Love paced the team in scoring and rebounding each game, averaging a league-best 29.7 points and ranking with 4.7 rpg. He had at least 30 points and 15 rebounds twice, giving him 20 such games since entering the league in 2008-09, second over that span to Dwight Howard (23). In the team’s season opener Oct. 30 – a 120-115 overtime victory against the Orlando Magic — Love finished with 31 points and 17 rebounds, and sank the game-tying three-pointer to force overtime.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Orlando’s Arron Afflalo, Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Indiana’s Paul George, Detroit’s Greg Monroe, and the L.A. Clippers Chris Paul.

InsideHoops.com photo of Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio shooting around before Sunday’s Wolves at New York Knicks game:

Ronny Turiaf

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that Ronny Turiaf underwent a MRI (Magnetic Resonance Image) this morning at TRIA Orthopedics in Bloomington, Minn. that revealed a radial head fracture of the right elbow. Turiaf will be re-evaluated later this week to determine an approximate time table for a return to the court.

Turiaf suffered the injury at the 10:17 mark of the second quarter during last night’s 100-81 Wolves win over Oklahoma City.

The Wolves are looking to do big things from now on. With health and continued improvement from young, talented players, they have the potential to rise up. Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Kevin Love

The Timberwolves spent $120 million last summer to add pieces around charismatic stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio in a league in which, more often than not, you only go as far as your best players take you.

They signed Corey Brewer for his energy and defense, Kevin Martin and Chase Budinger for their shooting and Nikola Pekovic for his muscle and low-post scoring, all in an attempt to finally reach the playoffs after a long decade away.

But if the Wolves indeed are headed that way for the first time since Kevin Garnett wore their uniform, it is Love and Rubio who will lead them with a two-man game — part old-school sensibilities, part new-school invention — that unsolicited teammates and opposing NBA coaches compare to a modern Stockton-Malone combination.

“That’s a pretty bold statement,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said, taken aback at the mention of the Utah Jazz greats, point guard John Stockton and power forward Karl Malone. “I coached against those guys and those are two Hall of Famers who played together for 18 years. They invented, I guess, the pick-and-roll between the two of them.”

Ricky Rubio

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has exercised its fourth-year options on guard Ricky Rubio and forward Derrick Williams.

Rubio, the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, joined the Wolves in 2011-12 and has played 98 games with the club. He holds career averages of 10.7 points, 7.7 assists and 2.3 steals per game, including setting the franchise single-season steals mark last year (2.40 spg). As a rookie in 2011-12, Rubio was named to NBA’s All-Rookie First Team after averaging 10.6 points, 8.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game.

Williams, the second overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, has appeared in 144 games (71 starts) with the club, holding career averages of 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Williams started 56 games in 2012-13 and averaged 14.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in 40 games (all starts) over the last three months of the season.

Timberwolves waive center Chris Johnson

Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has waived center Chris Johnson. The Wolves roster now stands at 15 players.

Johnson, 28, played in two preseason games this season and averaged 2.0 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. He was originally signed by the Wolves to a 10-day contract on January 19, 2013 before being signed to a second 10-day contract on January 29. Johnson was signed for the remainder of the 2012-13 season on February 8. He appeared in 30 games with the Wolves last season and averaged 3.9 points and 2.0 rebounds in 9.5 minutes per contest.

Good three-point shooting opens up the paint area for inside players. Generally, the further a team can stretch the defense, the better. Here’s Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

kevin martin

Last season, the Wolves made only 30.5 percent of their threes. This preseason, with Kevin Love back healthy and Kevin Martin brought aboard, they made 37.6 percent and weren’t shy doing it.

“I don’t mind that if they’re good shots,” coach Rick Adelman said, referring to the 62 threes his team tried on consecutive nights. “I don’t mind that at all. We had some good looks at it. There’s where the ball is going to go.”

The ball in Adelman’s offense is going to find Martin and Love — deft shooters both — beyond the arc, and it’s going to find Rubio, too.

If Rubio makes enough to keep opposing defenses honest — and Thursday’s 15-point performance was more than that — it just might define the team’s upcoming season.

Ricky Rubio

The Wolves will pick up Derrick Williams’ $6.7 million contract option for 2014-15 and do the same with Ricky Rubio’s $5 million option as well, a team source confirms.

The decision on Rubio’s contract before next week’s season opener is nothing but a formality.

The Williams’ decision pretty much was one, too, despite all the Internet chatter whether they’d really commit to another contract that could leave them fairly handcuffed right near the luxury tax.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Blog)

Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams’ $6.3 million option for 2014-15 will be exercised, Wolves owner Glen Taylor confirmed to 1500ESPN.com contributor Darren Wolfson.

Williams’ future with the Minnesota Timberwolves has been a lingering storyline throughout the preseason. For now, at least one question surrounding Williams has been answered.

The former 2011 No. 2 overall draft pick is on tap to make just more than $5 million this season. His seven-figure raise next year will put the Wolves very close to the league’s luxury tax.

Reported by Nate Sandell and Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com

One of the biggest things a coach has to do before the start of the season is figure out his rotation:

It’s the start of the Wolves’ final three preseason games in the next five days and a Sunday night during which Rick Adelman will continue to search for answers at small forward.

Right now, he sounds like a confused man.

He started Derrick Williams at that spot tonight and said he might start somebody else there Wednesday in Philadelphia and perhaps somebody else again on Thursday in Detroit.

That list of somebodies includes Othyus Jeffers, Robbie Hummel and Shabazz Muhammad.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

The good news is, the rest of the starting Wolves lineup appears pretty solid.

AJ Price

Price was invited to training camp partly because of his connection with new Wolves General Manager Milt Newton from the season they spent together in Washington a year ago, partly because of three seasons with the Pacers and one with the Wizards. And partly because of two transformational years in college when he went two seasons without basketball because of complicated brain surgery and his own decisions.

At age 27, he is trying to stay in the NBA with an opportunity he admits was the only real one that didn’t involve playing overseas. He is competing with fellow veteran Othyus Jeffers and rookies Lorenzo Brown and Robbie Hummel for the team’s final two jobs because of what Adelman calls his professionalism and Price himself attributes to life’s lessons learned.

Price missed two collegiate seasons after his freshman year at Connecticut when he was diagnosed with a condition that entangles brain arteries and veins and required that surgery he credits with saving his life after his brain hemorrhaged. While he recovered, Price and a teammate were suspended by the school for a season for their involvement in trying to sell stolen laptop computers.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Raised in Senegal and now pursuing his professional life in America, Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng speaks five languages, and another one that Rick Adelman and any other coach understands.

During rookie karaoke night at training camp in Mankato last week, he stood on a chair and sang Happy Birthday to head athletic trainer Gregg Farnam in English, French and his native Wolof without ever demonstrating his knowledge of either Italian or Spanish.

During preseason games against Toronto and Milwaukee this week, he showed, even given his rookie status and late start in the game, he’s fluent in basketball.

“He’s a smart player,” Adelman said. “It doesn’t take long watching him to see that he knows how to play.”

Dieng is just 23 and didn’t seriously start playing the game until he was a teenager, but maybe there’s a reason his given name means “old man” in his native language.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Wolves guard Kevin Martin is day-to-day

Wolves guard Kevin Martin is day-to-day

The Wolves will play on tonight in Sioux Falls, S.D., against the Bucks without starting shooting guard Kevin Martin, who played just six minutes last night in Toronto because of a sore Achilles.

Martin calls himself day to day, but I’ll bet you he doesn’t play Saturday against the Raptors in a rematch at Target Center, either.

The Wolves don’t play for another eight days after Saturday, so that would give him a good 10 days to rest and heal his body.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

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