You don't see this every day: Kevin Garnett came over to the media after this morning's shootaround without being requested for an interview because, he said, he had some things to say before tonight's game against the Lakers in Los Angeles.
Much of it was to express support for interim head coach and his former teammate, Sam Mitchell, and the direction the 14-35 Wolves are headed.
"I feel real good about the progression of this team since Day 1 and I think it needs to be said and needs to be understood that I'm endorsing Sam Mitchell and our coaching staff and this organization," he said. "More importantly, I'm excited about our future. I'm excited about our young players. I feel like we're getting better. These last 10, 15 games, we've gotten better. You see it and I think that needs to be said. I think you all need to understand we're supportive around here."
Garnett probably felt the need to say that after he was asked 10 days ago for his repsonse to those who question whether Mitchell is the right man for the job and responded with, "Next question."
This morning, he spoke four minutes about Mitchell and the team's direction.
"Just because I haven't done a lot of interviews and voiced my opinion on a lot of things," he told three of us media members gathered, "I want you guys to understand that not only do I endorse Sam Mitchell, but the other players do, too. We believe not only in him, but the system and what we're trying to do here. I think everybody needs to understand that. The transformation and what we're trying to do here is build something for the future and these are the first steps of that. I don't really come to you guys a lot and say two words, but I just want you guys to know that needs to be heard and said."
Garnett said he sees improvement in everything from how young players now carry themselves to better communication and ball movement.
"Since Day 1 you see the progression how guys are getting the schemes, their IQ levels, the rhythm," he said. "It's not just offense and putting the ball in the basket, but how guys communicate with each other, the chemistry throughout the guys. When you're watching your team progress, those are the things you're looking for. Our assists have gone from single-digit some halves and some nights to over 30 and over 20. And that means ball movement. That means players are understanding not only the system that's in place, but ball movement and sharing the ball.
"We're communicating with each other on and off the court. We've been doing a lot of hanging. We did movies one day, we did turkey burgers another day. Those are the things that build character and chemistry throughout the team and those are the things of which I speak."
Garnett will miss his fifth consecutive game tonight because of what the team reports is a sore knee.
Garnett this morning said it's his leg that's bothering him.
"I'm having some difficulty with my leg, running and stuff," he said. "But its progressing and I should be back soon."
Center Nikola Pekovic also will not play tonight because his surgically-repaired foot is sore and Mitchell said Kevin Martin (sore wrist) also probably won't play as well.
The Wolves called Adreian Payne back from the D League after three games because they need another big body for back-to-back games tonight against the Lakers and Wednesday against the Clippers at Staples Center.
Karl-Anthony Towns was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month for January, the third straight month that he's won the honor. Towns averaged 16.9 points and 10.9 rebounds per game last month. Andrew Wiggins won the honor for three months in a row last season on his way to being named NBA Rookie of the Year.