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.
Ricky Rubio, whose season is done after 22 games because of recurring left ankle pain, spoke briefly with the media today after practice.
He talked about his immediate plans for the off-season, his goals heading into training camp next fall and was asked about whether or not he’ll play for the Spanish National Team at the European Championships in September.
Here is what he had to say:
--On his truncated season: “It’s been a tough season,” he said. “I’m trying to get healthy. Finally I was kind of healthy and I was playing with a little pain. But, at one point, I couldn’t do any more. It’s tough because I want to be out there on the court. I did everything I could, but I couldn’t.’’
--Does he consider this a lost year?: “I’m trying to be positive, even if it’s tough in these moments. When you play only 22 games, I try to take good things. I learned a lot. New coaches, learned with my teammates. I grew up as a player. Every injury you gotta be stronger, especially mentally. This one made me smarter.’’
--On the upcoming off-season: “I have time. I want to get ready. I want to be healthy and I want to improve. The main thing this summer is going to be to get healthy, get 100 percent and be ready.”
--Will he play for the Spanish National Team?: “Of course I have thoughts. But right now I can’t think about it until the season is over. Of course the priority this summer is my health. I haven’t been healthy and I how this team a lot. In four years, I have one good season, an 82-game season. I owe this team a lot.’’
Meanwhile, coach Flip Saunders said Kevin Garnett is going on the upcoming road trip. But Gorgui Dieng (concussion-like symptoms), Anthony Bennett (ankle) and Gary Neal (ankle) are not traveling.
Greetings on a sunny Saturday.
There was a bit of news to come out of the Wolves’ practice today: Ricky Rubio will not play again this season. Coach Flip Saunders said Rubio’s sore left ankle – originally injured in Orlando Nov. 7 – was not responding well enough to treatment and that there was still soreness there.
“He’s just got soreness in that ankle,” Saunders said. “So they want to rest [it], take care of it. There is no use of him playing. We thought, with what we were doing, that he would get relief. And he’s not getting relief. So we want to make sure there is nothing else happening in there.”
Rubio appeared in a total of 22 games this season, averaging 10.3 points per game – right around his career average – and a career-high 8.8 assists per game. But his shot continued to be a problem; Rubio’s shooting percentage (35.6 percent) was a career low.
Saunders said the organization hopes that further rest will take care of the problem. At this point, he said, surgery is not an option.
“We’re hoping that rest, the next month, will put him in a situation where he’s going to be pretty healthy,” Saunders said. “I don’t think anyone thought it was going to take the turn that it took. They’re trying to do some different things to see if they can get him pain-free.’’
Rubio originally missed 42 games after the Nov. 7 injury, returning to action Feb. 2 at Dallas. But he had missed 11 of the last 12 Wolves games.
Meanwhile, Saunders said that both Kevin Garnett and Gary Neal practiced today, and there is a chance both will see some playing time before the season ends.
Garnett has missed the past 12 games with a sore knee. Neal has not played since injuring his ankle March 22.
That’s about it for now. Have a great weekend.
The Wolves today claimed 7-foot center Justin Hamilton off waivers and released rookie Glenn Robinson III to make room for him.
Hamilton, 24, was waived by New Orleans on Tuesday so the Pelicans could clear roster space and sign Elliot Williams.
Hamilton was a second-round pick by Philadelphia in 2012 who played college ball at Iowa State and LSU and played eight games with Charlotte and Miami last season and 24 games with the Heat this season before he was traded to New Orleans at the trade deadline.
He averaged 2.8 points and 2 rebounds in 24 games this season.
The trade gives the Wolves another big man behind Gorgui Dieng if center Nikola Pekovic's troublesome ankle limits or sidelines him for the season's remaining weeks.
The Wolves drafted Robinson in last summer's second-round, saying they landed a first-round talent in the second round.
The team planned on having him play a good part of this season in the D League, but that never materialized because of the injuries that hit the Wolves this season and they needed him around to have a reasonable roster with which to practice.
He played 25 games, averaging 1.2 points and 4.3 minutes.
Greetings. The Wolves had a relatively brief practice today to get ready for Friday's game with Memphis. The team is inching towards full health -- with a few setbacks -- and they're going to need it. Look at the team's upcoming schedule. Coach Flip Saunders has.
"I'd say, unfortunately for us, three of the next four opponents are three of the best teams in the league, when you look at Memphis, Atlanta and Golden State''
The Wolves host Memphis is Friday, play at Detroit Sunday, then come back home to host Atlanta on Monday and Golden State on Wednesday. "From our fan's perspective, it should be a great opportunity to see some great teams and great basketball."
Here are some items from today's practice:
--Veteran backup point guard Mo Williams, still dealing with a sore hip, is questionable for Friday's game.
--Rookie Zach LaVine had an interesting story about that second-quarter look-away bounce pass from Ricky Rubio to Anthony Bennett that resulted in Bennett's dunk on the break:
LaVine was on the floor in the second quarter of Wednesday’s victory over Miami at Target Center when, on the fast break, Rubio looked right, then sent a bounce pass left to y Bennett for a thunderous dunk. Let’s just say Miami wasn’t the only one fooled by that no-look pass.
“He passed it to Anthony but he looked at me. When Anthony caught it I went like this,” LaVine said, slapping his hands. “I was trying to catch the ball. I was like, ‘Man, good pass.’ Rick said, ‘Thanks, I had to look you off on that one. That was a good run.’ And I was like, ‘Man that was top 10. That was good.’ ‘’
--LaVine, by the way, said his ankle is good to go.
That's about it for now. Jerry will be with the team tomorrow.
The Wolves practiced Saturday before boarding a plane for Atlanta.
Well, I should say, most of the Wolves practiced. But many did not. With the team about to embark on a difficult back-to-back at Atlanta and at Oklahoma City Sunday and Monday, a number of players were unable to participate. They include:
Kevin Martin, who is still wearing a brace on his right wrist;
Anthony Bennett, whose knee is sore;
Zach LaVine, who hyper extended his elbow Friday;
Mo Williams, who had general soreness, and;
Shabazz Muhammad, who is still out with an oblique muscle injury.
Martin and Muhammad will not play in Atlanta, it appears. The others? Coach Flip Saunders said he hoped they could all go. But all those bumps and bruises prevented Saunders from giving anyone much of a break, such as Andrew Wiggins, who appears to have hit the rookie wall.
Jerry will be with the team the next two days. Have a good rest of your weekend.
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