For the first time in years, there is a lot talk on the street about the Timberwolves, because fans seem to care about the team again.
And one of the questions being asked is: Why would Wolves President Flip Saunders bring back a guy like Corey Brewer, who didn’t produce for the team after he was selected in the first round of the 2007 draft?
Brewer was traded to the New York Knicks in the middle of the 2010-11 season in a massive deal that included Carmelo Anthony leaving Denver for New York.
Brewer was averaging 8.6 points for the Wolves that season on 38.4 percent shooting while grabbing 2.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. In his three seasons before that with the Wolves, Brewer shot 41.2 percent from the field, 33 percent from three-point range, to go along with averages of 9.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals.
“I was a little surprised [to be brought back],” Brewer said. “But I was happy about having the opportunity to come back to Minnesota for a second round.
“I was happy when I was there. It was just a tough situation with all the turnover. I felt like I had new teammates every year and a new coach every year. So hopefully there’s some stability now to come back and play for a good coach like [Rick] Adelman and a bunch of good players.”
Since being traded by the Wolves, Brewer was with the Knicks for two days before being waived, then played for the Mavericks and Nuggets. How did he feel about moving around the past few years?
“As a player, you learn a lot moving around like that,” Brewer said. “I got to play with some good players, especially going to Dallas and being able to win a championship playing with players like Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Dirk Nowitzki. I had the opportunity to play in Denver with a bunch of good players. I think my game got a lot better.”
And how his game changed since leaving the Wolves?
“I feel like I know how to play the game a lot better,” Brewer said. “I know how to do things to get the ball in a scoring position. My defense is a lot better. … I’ve learned how to play the game. I’ve had the opportunity to play with a lot of veteran guys who have taught me a lot.
“I feel like I’m better defensively. I feel like I can play solid defense, and I know how to gamble and make things happen. It’s all about what the team needs.”
But if Brewer has improved so much, why did Denver let him go after other teams like the Wolves, Knicks and Mavericks did as well?
“It’s the same thing, new turnaround,” Brewer said. “They got new management, a new head coach came in. They decide to go a different direction sometimes.”
Happy to be back
Brewer wasn’t happy to leave Minnesota, and he is glad to be back. Last season with Denver, he averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. He shot 42.5 percent from the field and only 29.6 percent from three-point range. But Brewer did take the largest percentage of his three-pointers from the left corner, where he was 49-for-119 (41.2 percent), according to NBA.com.
“I know the last couple of years I’ve been able to hit the corner three consistently,” he said. “I’ll get a lot of open corner threes with the lineup we have. Then just to be able to run the court with Ricky Rubio — a lot of easy baskets to be had.”
Brewer believes he fits in with the Wolves personnel.
“We have a lot of good players,” he said. “… I don’t have any pressure on me. I can just go out and play.”
And Brewer is excited about the chance to play for Adelman, who appears certain to be coming back to coach the Wolves.
“Everybody loves playing for him that I’ve talked to,” Brewer said. “They say he lets you play, puts you in the right position to just make basketball plays, and he’s a good coach.”
Yes, there has been a big turnover in Wolves personnel since Brewer left, with only Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic remaining from Brewer’s time here.
U vs. Syracuse in Maui
The Gophers men’s basketball team announced Wednesday it will play Syracuse in the opening round of the Maui Invitational on Nov. 25 in Hawaii.
That’s a nice nonconference opponent and a good tournament for the Gophers to be involved in, but it will be interesting to see if they schedule any major opponents for their home nonconference slate — something that has been almost nonexistent as of late.
Last season, the Gophers faced Duke and Memphis in a nonconference tournament, but their best nonconference opponent at home likely was North Dakota State. The 2011-12 nonconference schedule didn’t feature a single NCAA tournament team. In 2010-11 the Gophers played Wofford, which made the NCAA tournament but isn’t a big-name opponent.
Looking back, the last time the Gophers faced a decent opponent from one of the big conference schools in a traditional nonconference game at home — excluding the Big Ten/ACC Challenge — was against Iowa State in November 2006.
• According to Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, rookie free-agent wide receiver Rodney Smith of Florida State is showing real potential.
“He was an undrafted kid, and he’ll have a chance. He’s tall, has good hands, decent speed; we’ll see how he does once we put the pads on. He has a chance [to play]. He’s working hard. I think he has a legitimate chance.”
• The Aspire Company, hired by the Gophers athletic department to sell tickets, has generated sales of $1.8 million during the past fiscal year. The word is the company is paid a 10 percent commission on the sales.
• To date Gophers students have purchased 1,281 football season tickets, 708 for men’s basketball and 1,341 for men’s hockey.
• Former Hopkins wide receiver Andre McDonald, who was suspended last year by the Gophers and didn’t make the trip to the Meineke Bowl, is in school and has been reinstated as a member of the team.
• Apparently, former Wolves coach Kurt Rambis is close to rejoining the Lakers as an assistant coach and is helping the team in the summer league. Former Wolves forward Mark Madsen also has joined the Lakers staff at the summer league.
• Twins closer Glen Perkins became the seventh former Gopher to be named to the Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. The others are Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor, Terry Steinbach, Greg Olson, Denny Neagle and Dan Wilson.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org