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Zgoda: Healthy Wolves showing change, front-office eyes more

  • Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
  • December 12, 2011 - 3:12 AM

News and notes from Sunday's Day 3 of training camp:

* The Wolves have come through the first three days healthy -- Kevin Love participated fully on Sunday after getting kneed in the thigh on Saturday -- and seem to be adapting to the culture change now that RIck Adelman is coach.

"We're putting emphasis on different things and seeing how guys respond and so far is they keep responding the way they have been, it's going to change," Adelman said. "They're improving in areas we ask them to improve. If that happens, everything's going to change. I don't know how it goes into wins and losses, but I do know how they're playing is a whole lot different and their attitude is very positive."

* The Wolves continue to search for a ball-handling, playmaking kind of shooting guard, either in free agency or in a trade.

Those options include unrestricted free agents J.J. Barea and Jamal Crawford, among others, and Houston's Kevin Martin, who was traded to New Orleans in that three-way Chris Paul deal and then he wasn't.

Martin, of course, played for Adelman in Houston last season.

The Knicks also have been after both Barea(who's way more point guard than shooting guard) and Crawford, but have only a two-year, $5 million slot to offer.

New York tried to work a sign-and-trade with Atlanta on Sunday, but reportedly aren't willing to part with guard Toney Douglas.

The Wolves, comparatively, have money (but not nearly as much as, say, Sacramento, Denver, Memphis or Indiana, which spent a good chunk of theirs on David West on Sunday).

The Wolves are about $5 million below the cap and could clear $5 million or more if they should choose to amnesty one of their players.

David Kahn on Saturday said the team isn't considering using that option this season because the team is already under the cap and said has the flexibility to use a full $5 million mid-level exception if it exceeds the cap.

"It terms of how our team is situated right now and where we're head, there wasn't any advantage to using it now," he said.

* Even if the Wolves don't deliver a signing or trade, their influence could be seen in a big way on Monday.

That's when the Clippers and Hornets very well could finalize a deal to send Paul to Los Angeles for a package that includes as its centerpiece that 2012 first-round pick that the Wolves traded away for, um, Marko Jaric so many years ago.

* Ricky Rubio sounded thrilled with what he has seen of Adelman's system these first three days and might have taken a shot at his Regal Barcelona coach when he said it's a system that still allow "freedom to see which is the best option for us, not like robots."

Find more from Rubio in the notebook I wrote for Monday's paper here.

* No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams started camp slowly on Friday, but Adelman said he was "very pleased" how he's come on these last two days.

"He has been much more explosive and much more aggressive," Adelman said. "He's learning how to play at a faster-paced game. Defensively, he really has to maintain his concentration playing his guy. He's not used to playing perimeter people out there. We're very pleased how how he's progressed. He's very coachable. He's very willing to listen."

* Second-round pick Malcolm Lee has practiced all three days while the Wolves and his agent continue to negotiate a contract. He said his agent advised him to play anyway and show what he can do.

"We've been pleased with him," Adelman said. "He's just an aggressive, aggressive player. He's solid. He knows how to play. He compete, which is really neat."

Adelman said Lee can play both guard positions, and perhaps more importantly, defend both spots.

"He's trying to figure out how to play right now," Adelman said. "It's hard for young guys when you're playing them in two spots. They've got to adjust to that."

* Former Lakers guard Norm Nixon -- who, at David Kahn's request, has mentored Michae Beasley since last spring -- watched practice on Sunday and chatted with Kahn during part of it.

* And here's the story I wrote for Monday's paper about camp invitee Bonzi Wells. I had a really interesting conversation with him about his journey to get here at age 35 and how the way he left the NBA three years ago and how the game of golf has left him changed from the stubborn, immature player that definted much of his career.

The story is here.

That's it for Day 3.

Later, with Day 4 information.;

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