Archive for the ‘ Minnesota T-Wolves Blog ’ Category

Timberwolves trying to improve their defensive communication

The Timberwolves broke training camp Friday afternoon with coach Rick Adelman grateful that his team survived four demanding workouts without a significant injury but concerned about his best players’ defensive focus.

“We’ve known from the very beginning that we have a lot of offensive players, and their concentration is at that end,” Adelman said. “Their concentration has to be at both ends. You can drill on them everything in the world, and when they’re drilling, they’re fine. As soon as they get on the court, their concentration starts slipping. I’d say most of it is mental, and it’s something as soon as we start playing other teams, we’re going to find out real quick.”

Adelman and his coaches spent four days instructing their players on such complexities as proper positioning and rotations and preaching a basic such as urging them to communicate better on the court.

“You have to talk on the court,” Adelman said. “Every coach you talk to, their guys don’t talk enough. They get in the locker room and they talk all the time, but on the court, they don’t. That’s just the way it is. The good defensive teams talk. That’s one of the reasons [Kevin] Garnett has been so effective here and in Boston. He’s very vocal and helps his teammates out. We’ve got to get our guys to do that.”

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Rubio reaches a recovery milestone: He dunks

While peers Chase Budinger and Russell Westbrook returned to operating rooms this week for repair on knees previously operated upon, Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio demonstrated in a small way Thursday that his own recovery progresses.

He dunked.

It was a simple one-hander before the start of Thursday’s training camp practice, but it was a dunk nonetheless. It also is a sign of progress that had been more than a year coming since he underwent March 2012 surgery to repair two torn knee ligaments.

“I’ve been working this summer, finally I can dunk,” he said. “I could never jump too high, but at least I could dunk before the injury. This summer is the first time I dunked. It wasn’t easy, but I could.

“I’m dunking. But only in warm-ups, not in games yet.”

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Timberwolves add A.J. Price to training camp roster

The Minnesota Timberwolves today finalized the team’s 2013-14 training camp roster by signing free agent A.J. Price. Today’s signing completes the Wolves training camp roster, which stands at 18 players. Minnesota’s training camp is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 1 - Friday, Oct. 4 at Bresnan Arena in the Taylor Center on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Price, 26, spent the 2012-13 season with the Washington Wizards where he averaged career-highs with 7.7 points, 2.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 57 games (22 starts). He was drafted by Indiana in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2009 NBA Draft and played three seasons with the Pacers. In 2011-12, Price appeared in 44 games, averaging 3.9 points and 2.0 assists. He played in 50 games in 2010-11, averaging 6.5 points and 2.2 assists. In his rookie season, Price averaged 7.3 points and 1.9 assists in 56 games.

Price played three years at the University of Connecticut, compiling career averages of 13.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists. In 2007-08, Price started all 33 games at point guard and was UConn’s second leading scorer. He was named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s All-America Team, the First Team All-BIG EAST squad and also selected as USBWA District Player of the Year. In his final season with the Huskies, Price was the Huskies’ leading scorer with 14.7 ppg. In the 2009 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament he was named Most Outstanding Player in the West Region.

Price’s signing brings the Wolves training camp roster to 18 players. The Wolves will open training camp tomorrow at Bresnan Arena in the Taylor Center on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Timberwolves forward Chase Budinger suffers knee injury

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that forward Chase Budinger sustained a cartilage injury to his left knee.

Budinger will visit Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Alabama early next week. An update to Budinger’s status will be provided after that examination.

The Timberwolves finished last season with a 31-51 record, and did not qualify for the playoffs. They suffered some major injuries, including one to Budinger, who played just 23 games in 2012-13.

Coach Rick Adelman will return for Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves have confirmed Rick Adelman will coach the team this season after health issues for his wife earlier this year had raised questions about whether he would return.

Team owner Glen Taylor told the The Star Tribune of Minneapolis on Sunday that Adelman said he was coming back.

Mary Kay Adelman’s health issues caused the coach to take a three-week, midseason leave from the team.

Reported by ESPN.com/Associated Press

Minnesota Timberwolves announce athletic training staff hires

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the hiring of Koichi Sato as the team’s Director of Sports Performance and Mark Kyger as Director of Athletic Therapy. Both Sato and Kyger will report to Timberwolves Head Athletic Trainer Gregg Farnam.

“We are pleased to welcome Koichi and Mark to our training staff,” Farnam said. “They both have many years of experience in working with athletes and will help us achieve the highest standard possible in the physical preparation and maintenance of our players.”

Sato will be responsible for overseeing all areas relating to performance enhancement. He comes to the Wolves from the Washington Wizards where he was the team’s Rehabilitation Coordinator/Assistant Athletic Trainer since 2008. Prior to that, Sato was an Assistant Athletic Trainer/Performance Specialist for Athletes’ Performance in Los Angeles for one year. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tokyo International University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Illinois University. Sato received his Master’s degree in Exercise Science/Physical Education from Arizona State in 2001. From 2000 to 2006, Sato was an Assistant Athletic Trainer for the Sun Devils. He has been a speaker and instructor on different areas of training for the last 10 years.

Kyger will play an integral role in the health care of the Timberwolves players. He comes to the Wolves from Arizona State University where he was the Sun Devils’ Rehabilitation Coordinator, providing physical therapy and athletic training for athletes in the school’s 21 varsity sports since 2007. Prior to that, Kyger was employed by Physiotherapy Associates in Tempe, Ariz., from 2005-07 where he specialized in sports therapy. Kyger received an undergraduate degree in Human Performance and Wellness from Mesa State College and received a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Regis University Ruekert-Hartman School for Health Care Professions. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, National Athletic Trainers’ Association, and National Strength and Conditioning Association. Kyger played college basketball at Mesa State, earning four letters and serving as the team’s co-captain in 2000-01.

Timberwolves promote David Adelman, hire Bobby Jackson

The Minnesota Timberwolves today promoted David Adelman to assistant coach and hired Bobby Jackson as player development coach.

“David is a bright young coach and has demonstrated the past two years that he is ready to take on additional responsibilities,” said Flip Saunders, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations. “In Bobby Jackson, we are bringing a Minnesota basketball icon back to our state. Bobby has the respect of players around our league and did a great job working with the young Kings players this past season. Both Rick Adelman and I are very familiar with Bobby and are excited to have him on our coaching staff.”

Adelman spent the past two seasons as the Wolves’ player development coach where he was responsible for assisting in all of the team’s player development initiatives. This past summer he served as head coach of the Timberwolves Summer League entry and was co-head coach of the team in the summer of 2012.

Prior to joining the Wolves, Adelman went 83-53 in five seasons as head basketball coach at Lincoln High School in Portland, Ore. He led the Cardinals to Portland Interscholastic District Championships in the 2006-07, 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, while also reaching the Oregon Class 6A state championship final in 2009.

Prior to coaching at Lincoln, Adelman was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Jesuit High School in Portland, from 2001-06, helping the team win a state title in 2005.

Jackson returns to Minnesota after serving as assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings the past two seasons. Prior to that, Jackson worked in a regional scout/player development capacity in 2010-11 and was the team’s first-ever Ambassador in 2009-10.

Jackson finished his 12-year NBA career in 2009 after playing for six teams: Denver, (1997-98), Minnesota (1998–00), Sacramento (2001-05, 2008-09), Memphis (2005-06), New Orleans (2006-08), and Houston (2007-08). In his two seasons with the Wolves, Jackson averaged 5.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 123 games (10 starts). He won the NBA’s Sixth Man award in 2002-03 while playing for the Kings.

Jackson starred at the University of Minnesota where he led the Golden Gophers to the 1997 Final Four. During that season he averaged 15.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists, and scored 36 points in an NCAA Tournament double-overtime win against Clemson.

A Salisbury, N.C. native, Jackson and his wife, Dona, are parents of Breann (19), Kendrick (17), Skyy (13), Sarah (10), and Sebella (4).

Timberwolves likely hiring Bobby Jackson soon

The Wolves officially announced this afternoon that Washington Wizards executive Milt Newton is their new general manager…

His hiring — as well as the May hiring of Calvin Booth — adds diversity to a Wolves front office that has noticeably lacked it during most of the team’s 25 seasons.

The official hiring of former Gophers star and former Timberwolf Bobby Jackson as player development coach is next. That likely will come Monday.

For those asking, Jackson’s arrival means Shawn Respert won’t be back in that role. Respert and David Adelman both worked as player development coaches last season; Adelman has been promoted to an assistant coach now that Bill Bayno has taken a job with Toronto.

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

minnesota timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the hiring of Milt Newton as the team’s General Manager.

“We are pleased to add Milt Newton to our organization.” said Flip Saunders, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations. “I have followed Milt closely during his career and have always been impressed with his basketball knowledge, work ethic and professionalism. His front office experience in the NBA, as well as his ability to combine analytics evaluation with his basketball playing and scouting background will greatly benefit our organization.”

Newton brings a lengthy and varied list of basketball credentials to his General Manager position. He will assist Saunders in the evaluation and acquisition of players and in the overall management of all Basketball Operations for the Wolves. He spent the last 10 seasons with the Washington Wizards, most recently as the team’s Vice President of Player Personnel.

Prior to joining the Wizards organization, Newton was instrumental in spearheading the creation of the NBA Developmental League. In that role, he worked closely with NBA Commissioner David Stern and served as the NBADL Director of Player Personnel for three years. Newton previously spent one year as a Scout with the Philadelphia 76ers and was also the Assistant Director for the USA Basketball Men’s National Team programs from 1995-99. His duties with USA Basketball included coordinating the team trials, training camps, exhibition games and team competitions for the various level National Teams, and acting as liaison for the Men’s National Teams at international competitions.

In college, Newton was a starter for the 1988 University of Kansas NCAA National Championship team. He was named in 1988 to the NCAA Midwest Regional and Final Four All-Tournament teams. After serving as Team Captain and being selected as the Kansas MVP in 1989, Newton played professionally in the Continental Basketball Association for the Rockford Lightning and Grand Rapids Hoops.

Newton is well thought of by members of the basketball community:

“Milt possesses an extraordinary skill set that is a great fit for the Timberwolves organization,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern. “His exceptional work ethic and basketball acumen played a large role in the launch and success of the NBA Development League. I am extremely pleased for Milt and the Timberwolves who will no doubt benefit from the tremendous experience he brings to their front office.”

“Milt is like family to me, he’s a special person and I’m thrilled that he is getting this long-overdue opportunity,” said former NBA coach Larry Brown. “I admire Flip Saunders and Glen Taylor and think the Timberwolves are a phenomenal organization that is getting better on the court. Milt is a hard-working, loyal guy who will help them succeed.”

“I have great respect for Milt as a person,” said long-time NBA executive Wayne Embry Sr. “I have great respect for his basketball knowledge and his philosophy as how to build an organization and team. Milt will be successful because of his hard work, his dedication and tremendous people skill. The Timberwolves have made a good choice.”

“This is a well-deserved opportunity for Milt to further his career,” said Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. “We wish him and his family the best and thank him for his contributions to the Wizards organization over the last 10 years.”
“Congratulations to Flip Saunders and the Minnesota Timberwolves on a terrific hire with Milt Newton,” said USA Basketball CEO/Executive Director Jim Tooley. “Milt was a tremendously valuable member of USA Basketball’s staff for over four years in the mid 1990’s and he is truly a team player. He was a highly recruited high school player, played at the University of Kansas and was a valuable member of their famed 1988 NCAA Championship team. He also went on to play professionally. Milt has a wealth of basketball experience, but what makes him so special is that he’s a person of character. He’s the consummate professional, a class act and he will be an incredible asset to the Timberwolves.”

J.J. Barea would happily return to Mavs in the future

What the Dallas Mavericks will do in future offseasons remains a mystery especially with Mark Cuban running the show.

While the Mavericks appear to be building for the future at point guard with Shane Larkin, a reunion with J.J. Barea is not out of the question. Dallas did show some interest this offseason, and Barea said he wouldn’t mind returning in the near future.

“It’s a great relationship with Mark Cuban. If they want to bring me back to Dallas, I am very [good] with it,” he told ESPN.com.

Reported by the Dallas Morning News staff

Bobby Jackson

The Wolves are in contract discussions to bring former Gophers star Bobby Jackson back to Minnesota and back to the franchise as a player development coach to replace David Adelman, according to a league source.

Jackson starred for two seasons for that Gophers team that reached the 1997 Final Four — or didn’t, if you’re the NCAA — and played in the NBA for both Flip Saunders with the Wolves and Rick Adelman in Sacramento and Houston.

My colleague Sid Hartman phoned in the Jackson news to the sports desk late last night, too late for it to get into the paper, and a source confirmed it this morning.

Jackson was a Kings assistant coach the last two seasons — and their basketball operations special assistant for two years before that — before Sacramento made sweeping ownership and management changes last summer.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Corey Brewer feels ready to help Timberwolves

Brewer says he’s worked hard to refine his offensive game. He turned into a big threat in transition while playing the last two seasons in Denver and has become proficient at shooting the corner 3-pointer.

Brewer says he’s a “whole different player” from the one that never quite lived up to the hype as a No. 7 overall pick during his first stint with the Timberwolves.

He also says he’s ready to be a leader on the young team.

Reported by Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press

Nikola Pekovic

Timberwolves fans might have fretted and feared the worst those six weeks when their team haggled with restricted free-agent center Nikola Pekovic over a new contract.

To hear him tell it, even Pekovic’s agents might have done a little of the same.

But the big man who on Friday celebrated five years’ job security and a $60 million guaranteed payday by wearing nearly all black never sweated the small stuff when negotiations stalled — until the Wolves offered a fifth year so Pekovic’s side would accept the team’s $12 million salary ceiling.

“I always knew it was going to get done,” he said at a Friday news conference that officially presented him and the new deal. “I was not nervous. I think my agents were more nervous, that’s for sure. They were calling me, like, ‘Calm down, calm down.’ I said don’t worry, I’m fine.”

He felt fine all those weeks because — as he suggested all last season — he knew he wanted to return to the team that drafted him with the first pick in the 2008 draft’s second round.

He knew that for certain because, well, he likes it here.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

A glance at the Timberwolves rotation

Nikola Pekovic

The Wolves announced a five-year, $60 million contract Wednesday for Nikola Pekovic that essentially finishes off their roster shopping for the season. There probably is one spot left, and it will go to an end-of-the-bench type.

The starting five figures to be something like this: C-Nikola Pekovic; PF-Kevin Love; SF-Corey Brewer; SG-Kevin Martin; PG-Ricky Rubio.

The first four players off the bench on many nights figure to be: Chase Budinger (unless he starts over Brewer), J.J. Barea, Dante Cunningham and possibly Ronny Turiaf, at least early in the season.

The four players whose playing time appears to be most nebulous are: Derrick Williams, Alexey Shved, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng.

So a team that won 15 games in the 2009-10 season, had lottery picks in 2010, 2011 and 2013 … is now poised to challenge for the playoffs, perhaps without a major contribution from any of those picks.

Reported by Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Nikola Pekovic, Wolves agree to five-year, $60 million deal

The Timberwolves concluded a summer of spending by reaching agreement Wednesday with restricted free-agent center Nikola Pekovic on a five-year, $60 million contract, one that includes as much as $8 million more in performance-based incentive clauses, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.

Six weeks after negotiations formally started and six weeks before training camp begins, the Wolves re-signed a player whom new President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders has maintained all along was his top summertime priority.

Pekovic, too, all last season said he wanted to return to the Wolves, who selected him in the second round of the 2008 draft.

Wednesday morning, the two sides finally came together to keep the 27-year-old Pekovic with the Wolves through 2018, barring a trade of course. There are no player or team options in the contract.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

timberwolves re-sign nikola pekovic

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has reached an agreement in principle on a contract with restricted free-agent center Nikola Pekovic. According to ESPN.com, the deal is “five-year pact worth $60 million and potentially up to an additional $8 million in incentive-related bonuses.”

“Retaining Pek was our No. 1 priority this offseason and we’re very excited that he’s chosen to continue his career in Minnesota,” said Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders. “Thanks to a lot of hard work and determination, Pek has developed into one of the NBA’s premier centers and is entering the prime of his career. We envision Pek and Kevin Love being the ‘Bruise Brothers’ and forming one of the best front courts in the NBA for a long time to come.”

Pekovic, 27, continued his development into one of the top centers in the NBA last season by setting single-season career highs in scoring (16.3 ppg), rebounding (8.8 rpg) and minutes (31.6 mpg). In 62 games, all starts, the 6-11 center finished 20th in the NBA in field goal accuracy at 52.0%, while shooting 74.4% from the free throw line. Pekovic collected a team-high 26 points/rebound double-doubles last season, including 11 games with 20+ points and 10+ rebounds. He became the first Wolves player in over four years to be named Western Conference Player of the Week when he averaged 25.0 points, on 58.9% shooting, and 8.5 rebounds in four contests from April 1-7.

In 174 NBA games, 108 starts, Pekovic owns career averages of 11.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in 23.6 minutes per contest. The Wolves originally selected the Montenegro native with the 31st overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.

A press conference with Pekovic and Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders will be announced at a later date.

Kevin Martin

Given that professional basketball players spend most of their careers singing odes to the prospect of winning championships, moving on from an NBA title contender to a youthful team trying to establish itself looks, on the face of it, like a tough shift.

But new Timberwolves shooting guard Kevin Martin sat at the podium at Target Center on Monday, introduced in person to the Twin Cities media for the first time since signing in July, and repeatedly declared his optimism for the move, his new home and the prospects of a team that has built an intriguing core.

“I don’t think our goal is just to make the playoffs — that would be a mistake to sit up here and say that’s our ceiling or things like that,” Martin said. “This team is built to do more than that. … The foundation has been laid, so now it’s our job to work hard every day and establish a family atmosphere in that locker room. … This was a very easy decision for me to come up here to Minnesota.”

No doubt, the four-year, $28 million contract Martin signed also had something to do with the sudden interest in a team that has missed the postseason for the past nine years. But Martin also divulged a little of what it means to have the opportunity to get back to a situation that makes more sense for him as a player.

Reported by Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Timberwolves guard Shabazz Muhammad was sent home from the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program, reportedly for violating a rule by bringing a female guest to his hotel room.

The story was first reported by USA Today. Muhammad, the 14th overall pick in the 2013 draft, will be fined and required to return to finish the program next year.

“We have been made aware of the circumstances surrounding Shabazz Muhammad’s dismissal from the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program in New Jersey,” said Flip Saunders, the Wolves president of basketball operations, in a team news release. “The team fully supports the NBA’s rules and policies in all matters pertaining to this situation and we will abide by the league’s action.”

Reported by Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

kevin durant

USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo and USA Basketball Men’s National Team head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University) announced at the conclusion of today’s National Team mini-camp in Las Vegas, Nev., that Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves), winners of gold medals at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and 2012 London Olympics, had confirmed they planned to be part of the USA Basketball National Team program through 2016 and will participate in next year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup that will be held Aug. 30-Sept. 14, 2014, in Spain.

“Kevin Durant and Kevin Love have officially announced that they will be a part of our future going forward, including the World Cup next summer, and it means a great deal to us because of how committed they are to our program and we are very appreciative of their early commitment,” said Colangelo when speaking to media following Wednesday’s USA National Team mini-camp practice. “We think it will certainly send a message to some of our other guys, who have indicated they are interested, and so we are very excited.”

“To represent your country, you can’t really take that for granted, so I knew last summer I was going to commit and play this next World Cup,” said Durant, who averaged a U.S. team high 19.5 points per game at the 2012 Olympics and who was named MVP of the 2010 World Championship after posting 22.8 points a game. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity, man, playing against the best in the world with the best in the world, so it should be fun.”

Kevin Love

The 6′10″ Love, who averaged 11.6 points and a team leading 7.6 rebounds per game during the 2012 Olympics, echoed Durant’s comments, stating, “K.D. mentioned it, just being a part of USA Basketball has meant a lot for my career. I’ve been a part of the World Championship team in 2010 and the 2012 Olympic Team in London, just coming off of last summer and then heading forward, just being a part of the family. Jerry and Coach keep mentioning being part of the USA Basketball family, and heading forward we are looking for bigger and brighter things.”

“It’s an exciting day and no more appropriate time to do it than when we are also adding this influx of new, young talent,” said USA and Duke University mentor Krzyzewski.  ”For these veterans, although they are not old guys yet, for these veterans to make that commitment is a huge step. You have gold medal winners in two events. Both of them were 21-year-old guys when we won in Istanbul (2010 FIBA World Championship) and then at 23 they won gold medals (in the 2012 London Olympic Games). They now are the leadership. They are part of the leadership of our program, and they’ve been committed. Kevin (Durant), this is the first camp that we’ve been involved in that he hasn’t been a participant. So, he started when we as 17. He (Kevin Love) started when we was young. It’s the program that Jerry has started since he took over, and it’s paying a lot of dividends. So, it’s an exciting day for USA Basketball; a big day.”

The announcement came in Las Vegas following the final USA National Team mini-camp practice session. The mini-camp, which opened July 22, will close with the 2013 USA Basketball Showcase, a blue-white intra-squad game on Thursday, July 25, 6 p.m. PDT at the Thomas & Mack Arena on the campus of UNLV.

Kevin Martin feels he brings a championship tone to Timberwolves

Kevin Martin didn’t realize how mediocre his NBA experience was until last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The new Timberwolves shooting guard had played on competitive teams in Houston and Sacramento, but an organization with an NBA-Finals-or-bust attitude was uncharted territory.

“It’s just a special atmosphere when your team has a championship tone in that locker room,” Martin said in a conference call Saturday afternoon. “That’s one thing I feel like I bring.”

Martin ended up with the Thunder last year after the Rockets made him part of a trade for superstar James Harden. Because of salary and luxury cap restrictions, it was unlikely Oklahoma City could have afforded Martin’s return this season. The Wolves swooped in for a sign-and-trade deal that was made official July 11.

Reported by Alex M. Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press

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