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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

The last thing anybody, particularly Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman, wanted from Monday night’s preseason opener was overtime. So when it came with a 108-106 loss to CSKA Moscow at Target Center, the best Adelman could call it was a “good teaching experience” for his players young and old alike.

From his starters, he wanted better professionalism on a night when his team fell behind by 18 points in the second quarter and led by four points late, long after his first unit went to the bench for the night.

From second-year guard Alexey Shved, he wanted better decision-making than the silly foul he committed with 7.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter that sent CSKA Moscow guard Milos Teodosic to the free-throw line for two shots that forced overtime.

And from forward Derrick Williams, he wants two hands on the ball when the game’s on the line.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Timberwolves want Alexey Shved to show his love of the game more

Riffing off a theme, new Timberwolves center Ronny Turiaf spends his days, among many other things, urging teammate Alexey Shved to smile more.

Last season, TNT’s wired microphone caught Ricky Rubio imploring Shved to “Change your face, be happy, enjoy it” coming out of a timeout in a video snippet that careened around the Internet.

Now Turiaf unknowingly has joined the chorus, encouraging the second-year Russian guard to play with more joy and less concern for his errors while coach Rick Adelman just wants Shved to become more “engaged” when he’s playing off the ball.

“If Alexey smiles, everything else takes care of itself,” Turiaf said. “If he doesn’t smile, he’s a different player.”

Much has changed for Shved since a rookie season in which his ball-handling and playmaking tantalized at times. But as plain as day, he also slammed into that rookie wall in the final months during a year when he played more minutes than anyone imagined.

Now he is a year wiser and stronger — “I make muscles,” he says — even if the wiry 6-6 combo guard still weighs the same starting a season when he no longer has fellow countryman Andrei Kirilenko by his side.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

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

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