Jerry Zgoda missed the entire Kevin Garnett era, but he's back covering the Timberwolves after working the beat for their first four seasons two decades ago. In between, he covered a bit of everything: Gopher men's and women's basketball and NCAA athletics, golf, outdoor recreation, sports media and a little Vikings and Twins.
Wolves veteran center Ronny Turiaf underwent "successful" arthroscopic surgery today in New York City to repair that hip injury that has kept him out for all but two games so far and will be sidelined for the rest of the season.
Expect that in time to lead to his release so the Wolves can sign another player to add to their injury-depleted roster.
Also, Ricky Rubio is on the trip and looks like he's made some good progress with that healing ankle.
Turiaf's contract -- with a $1.6 million salary -- expires after this season. Flip Saunders said this morning the team would waive Turiaf and pay him his remaining owed money "if there's the right person available."
That could be just keeping around forward Jeff Adrien, whose current 10-day roster exception spot runs through Friday. Or it could be a guard such as D League sharpshooter Brady Heslip, who was with the Wolves in training camp.
In a perfect world, that new player would be a versatile defender who can shoot.
They likely won't release Turiaf at least until Adrien's exception expires. Or they could wait to do until 10-day contracts can be signed until January, although that's some time to wait for a team that needs help now.
"It doesn't mean we'll disassociate ourselves from him," Saunders said about Turiaf. "We'd do it just for the survival of everybody else."
Saunders said Rubio's timeline has "sped up a little bit" recently, since Saunders a week ago said Rubio would be out another four to five weeks.
Rubio has advanced from running on the "anti-gravity" treadmill -- a machine that allows exercise without putting weight on the knees and ankles -- to running and shooting on his own. He's getting some jump into his jump shot.
Saunders said he's hopeful that Rubio by Christmas -- just a week away basically -- can practice in some 5-on-0 work offensively even if he's not facing live action by then.
"He thinks he can play Christmas Day," Saunders said. "But that's not going to happen."
Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic all on this trip to Washington and Boston.
"It's good to keep guys around the team, keep the other guys locked in," Saunders said. "We have so many young guys. They need to have some veterans around, just for leadership, because this is a tough time."
Greetings on a very wet Sunday.
The Timberwolves did not hold a shoot-around this morning. So we won’t know until before game time tonight whether veteran point guard Mo Williams (back spasms) will be able to play.
The Los Angeles Lakers did hold a workout this morning. Unfortunately Kobe Bryant declined to talk about the milestone he’s almost certain to pass tonight. Bryant (32,284 career points) needs nine points to pass Michael Jordan (32,292) into third place on the league’s all-time scoring list.
For Lakers coach Byron Scott, he’s all for finally getting it all over with. “I mean, when we left for this trip we knew it was going to happen,” Scott said. “It was just a matter of when. And our main focus is to try to keep winning games. So, after a good win in San Antonio (an overtime win Friday), we want to keep that going.’’
One thing you should see a good bit of tonight, especially down the stretch if it’s a close game, is Bryant playing the point guard position. It’s something Scott says he likes and something he plans on doing more of. At the point, he said, Bryant can still create his own shot, but he also has the skill to find the open man if he is double-teamed. And he especially likes doing it if Bryant is guarded by the other team’s point guard, creating a mismatch.
Meanwhile, Scott talked at some length about the first game between these two teams, the Wolves 120-119 victory in Los Angeles Nov. 28. It was, to listen to Scott, one of his team’s worst games this season. “I looked (at the game tape) pretty much right after the game,” he said. “And I wasn’t happy with it, and I let the guys know the next day how I felt about that game. So we have a pretty good idea what we have to do tonight. It will show how we’ve grown as a team. After a big win, do we come in here and lay a big one, or come out and really go after it?’’
The Lakers come in here having won two straight and four of seven since the loss to the Wolves.
In that Nov. 28 game Wolves rookie Zach LaVine came off the bench to score 28 points on 11-for-14 shooting. Bryant admitted LaVine stunned the Lakers with that performance.
“Yes, he did,’’ Scott said. “He played a whole lot better than we anticipated. So won’t say we’ll be giving him special attention. But he got our attention, let’s put it that way.’’
LaVine has been playing a lot of point guard out of necessity. It’s unclear how much he will play the point when the team is completely healthy. But Scott had some very nice things to say about the rookie. He was asked about the comparison some are making between LaVine and Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook.
Does he see similarities? “Yes, I do,” Scott said. “He’s so young, he’s just a pup. Give him a couple more years, then you can probably make those comparisons a little bit more. But right now, from an athletic standpoint, at point guard, I don’t think there is a point guard in this league who is more athletic than him.”
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you with an injury update before the game.
Yes, this is the Oklahoma City Thunder team you know, not the imposters who started the season 3-12 while both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were out.
Both players are back, and were in plenty of time to face the Timberwolves tonight at Target Center.
The Thunder has won four consecutive games since Durant returned five games ago and both players tonight will be playing in the second part of back-to-back games for the first time this season, another step in their recovery from injury.
Durant will be limited to 30 minutes tonight, or so Scott Brooks and the Thunder say.
The Thunder beat a LeBron-less Cleveland team last night at home, so this is the same situation as Wednesday's Wolves' victory over Portland. The Blazers, too, were playing the second half of back-to-back games that night.
The Wolves, meanwhile, tonight will play on without Mo Williams, who will miss his fifth consecutive game because of back spasms. Shabazz Muhammad is expected to play despite that ankle that has pained him for more than a week.
One other tidbit: Flip Saunders said before tonight's game that Ricky Rubio has moved on to the next part of his rehab by getting on the anti-gravity treadmill that allows him to walk and run without putting weight on his legs and healing ankle.
Wolves rookie Andrew Wiggins is the cover feature on this years's best-of edition of Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine. The edition hit the stands last week.
Meanwhile, the Wolves return home to play the winless 76ers hoping to NOT be the team that ends Philly's streak. I will be covering that game, so I'll get back to you guys after Wednesday morning's morning shoot.
Here's a link to the article:
Have a good day.
The Wolves today have signed former Milwaukee and Charlotte forward Jeff Adrien to help out in these difficult times with a roster exemption they've received from the NBA.
The Wolves received the hardship exception to add a 16th man beyond their 15-man roster because they have four players out injured.
Adrien, a 6-7 power forward, provides some muscle and bulk to a team that is missing injured centers Nikola Pekovic and Ronny Turiaf.
At least three of the Wolves' four injured players -- Pekovic, Turiaf, Kevin Martin and Ricky Rubio -- now cannot play for at least the next 10 days.
Pekovic will be evaluated again this coming week, but Flip Saunders said Friday that even if he's cleared for practice, he'll need at least a week to get back into game shape.
Adrien, 28, averaged 6.8 points and 5.8 rebounds a game in 53 games with Milwaukee and Charlotte last year.
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