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Welcome back, Stiemsma: Wolves introduce center at Target Center

  • Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
  • August 2, 2012 - 2:59 PM

Two days after they introduced Brandon Roy, the Timberwolves welcome Greg Stiemsma back to Target Center on Thursday.

He was here, you might remember, very briefly in 2010.

Here’s some of this and that from the afternoon when David Kahn introduced him at a news conference:

·          * Stiemsma signed a two-year contract that fits into the “room” exception slot -- $2.575 million – for teams under the salary cap, but the second year is not guaranteed, in good measure so the Wolves can be sure his feet are healthy.

He was limited from February through the playoffs because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot and a bone bruise in the right foot. He withdrew from playing for the U.S. Select team against Olympians in Las Vegas last month because he was receiving treatment for the plantar fasciitis, a troublesome condition that has ended more than one NBA career.

“My feet are feeling great,” he said. “We’ve been kind of taking it slow. That was a hard decision to do, but I think it was the right one. I took some time off, I’m rehabbing now and working my way back now. I feel good. It has been feeling great. I haven’t really felt limited at all.”

·         *  Kahn’s fun fact of the day: Stiemsma was second in league only to OKC’s Serge Ibaka in blocked shots per minutes played last season.

·         * Stiemsma is back with the Wolves after a brief time in 2010, when he was signed right before the season’s final game so Al Jefferson would have a summer workout partner and just in case the Wolves wanted to include his non-guaranteed contract in a trade. He was released that summer and never went to camp with them that fall. The Celtics signed him before last season after a circuitous route to the NBA that included Europe and the D League.

“It feels good to be wanted, it feels good to have all your hard work pay off,” he said. “It has been a journey from the all places I’ve been, all the places I’ve played. It feels a little more rewarding, I think I appreciate it as much if not more than anybody.”

·         * When asked his favorite Timberwolves moment from the first time around with the team, he asked, “Was there one?...Besides just the opportunity to be here, just to get that first taste of the NBA. I was here almost the whole summer working with Al Jefferson. Even from Al, I learned a lot. He’s a really good post player and it was a good matchup for us to battle back and forth with his jump hook and my shot blocking. It was a pretty good matchup. It gave me a good taste of reality too of how hard it is to stay in this league, how hard it is to get back.”

·         * Stiemsma’s cabin is only a 3 ½ hour drive away. He drove to Minneapolis twice during the free-agent process. “It was nice from a scheduling standpoint that we didn’t have to purchase an airplane ticket,” Kahn said.

·          * After signing Roy, Stiemsma and Alexey Shved, Kahn said the Wolves are $400,000-ish under the salary cap. He said the only way to add player(s) now is to sign them for the league minimum or trade a current salary or salaries to clear room.

He said the Wolves’ spending this summer still leaves them positioned to re-sign Nikola Pekovic to a big contract. They can exceed the salary cap to sign him either this fall or next summer.

“If he has the kind of season he had last season and given the size of some of the contracts some of the other centers have gotten, we need to be prepared for it,” Kahn said.

·          * Kahn returned Thursday morning from Vail, Colo., after conferring with Ricky Rubio and the doctors on Wednesday during one of Rubio’s schedule checkups. Rubio will return to Barcelona Saturday, then will go to London to be with his Spanish national team for the medal round and is set to go back to Vail for another checkup the second week September.

“He looked fit, he looked healthy, he looked really good,” Kahn said. “He has done a great job with his rehab. He deserves a lot of credit with his rehab. I don’t think he has missed a day.”

Rubio has not yet been cleared to run and won’t be until the next checkup. But Kahn said he expects Rubio to be on the floor with the team in training camp the beginning of October, even if he’s not cleared for contact play then.

“He will be with us in training camp, at practice, he’ll hopefully be able to do some non-contact things that month (October), but I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” Kahn said. “It’s very important for him and for our team that he starts the season traveling, practicing, that he’s here. He won’t be that far away, although we’re not going to put any dates certain on anything. He’ll be everywhere we are.”

·         * Kahn said he is “holding my breath” every moment while watching every Olympic game in which Kevin Love, Andrei Kirilenko and Shved play.

·         Kahn planned to talk with Stiemsma later Thursday about possibly going with assistant coach Bill Bayno to Montenegro for two weeks later this month to work out with Nikola Pekovic, although Stiemsma might prefer to stay near his Wisconsin home to be with his ill father.

·         * Stiemsma will wear jersey No. 34.

 

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