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.
The Wolves have traded veteran forward Corey Brewer to the contending Houston Rockets, a league source confirms.
Injured veteran center Ronny Turiaf is headed out in the trade as well. In return, the Wolves will receive young, sharp-shooting guard Troy Daniels and draft picks, as in plural.
They'll get Sacramento's 2015 second-rounder as long as it doesn't fall within picks 50-60 and Houston's own second rounder in 2016.
"Kind of mixed emotions just because I really love Minnesota," Brewer said this afternoon. "People don't understand how much I love Minnesota. I wanted to end my career here. That's why I signed back here. I thoguht it'd be possible, but I understand we're going young. It's going to be a few years, but the Wolves have great, young talent."
The trade reunites Brewer with Rockets coach Kevin McHale, the guy who drafted him seventh overall in 2007 and coached him for four-plus months to end the 2008-09 season.
"To get traded to a team where the guy who's coaching you is the guy who drafted you with the seventh pick, that's my guy, I love Mac," Brewer said.
Brewer noted other connections: Rockets assistant J.B. Bickerstaff worked him out in Minnesota pre-draft 2007, assistant Greg Buckner was a veteran on the team Brewer's rookie year and T.R. Dunn was an assistant with the Wolves last season.
The trade also gives Brewer a legitimate chance to win a title.
"A great situation, it's going to be great," Brewer said. "Playing with guys like Dwight Howard and James Harden, they're in a playoff race. They have a good team. I think I can come in and help that. That they wanted to trade for me and think I can help, that means a lot."
Brewer won a title as a limited role player in 2011.
"I've got lots of room for more rings," he said. "Last time I went to Texas, it worked out. Make it 2-for-2 in Texas, the Texas Two-Step."
He said Harden and other Rockets were recruiting him to come over to their side before a game at Target Center earlier this month.
Brewer was trying to make travel plans to join the Rockets when I spoke to him by phone this afternoon.
"I don't even know who I got traded for," he said.
Daniels, 23, is a 6-4 shooting guard whom a former Rockets coach calls the best pure shooter he has ever seen.
Undrafted out of VCU, he was cut by Charlotte at the end of training camp a year ago and signed a multi-year deall with Houston last February. He hit a go-ahead shot late in Game 3 of a playoff series against Portland last month.
Daniels has averaged just 6.4 minutes in 17 games this season, probably partly because of the Rockets' depth and partly because of his defense.
The trade also opens up a starting spot and more playing time presumably for hard-playing Shabazz Muhammad on the wing.
YahooSports' Adrian Wojnarnowski first reported the trade.
Wolves veteran guard Mo Williams returned relieved from a one-day visit back home to Dallas for a second opinion on his hurting back and an early birthday party.
Williams turns 32 today with peace of mind that his back pain that caused him to miss six consecutive games recently is deemed only muscular.
"Strains and spasms, something that's manageable," he said at shootaround before tonight's game at Boston. "This is my first time I ever hurt my back. The last thing I wanted was to go about it like it's muscular and then find out it's something serious. This is something that, at this point in my career, was a fear in me. I want to make sure I'm 100 percent."
Williams said he'll continue to navigate what he calls a "gray area" between resting his back and rehab work.
"I'll play through it," he said. "Obviously, rest would be great. But I want to play."
Besides peace of mind, Williams also got from his quick Dallas trip the chance to see his family and celebrate his birthday a day early.
Flip Saunders called Williams a "game-time decision" but he participated in shootaround this morning so I'm guessing he plays some.
We'll see how Williams' uncertain future for now influences Saunders' decisions in the coming days and weeks. Forward Jeff Adrien's hardship roster exception is about up and the Wolves need another point guard while Williams is slowed by that back, especially if Saunders trade Corey Brewer.
Those trade rumors have percoloated again on ESPN.com and elsewhere in the last day or two. ESPN.com Marc Stein suggested the Wolves are nearing a deal with Houston. Last I heard this morning is that three or four teams -- the Rockets, Cavaliers, Clippers and Heat -- all continue to troll for Brewer.
I'm pretty sure Saunders has been seeking a first-round pick in return, which is why nothing has happened so far. The Rockets have New York's second-round pick -- a high second-round pick almost certainly -- they'd trade.
The Wolves could include Ronny Turiaf's expiring contract in any deal. The Rockets probably are willing to
We'll see if Flip holds out for what he wants. Brewer was at shootaround this morning, so at least check he's still here.
The Rockets also have young guards Isaiah Canaan and Troy Daniels and could include one of the two in a deal. New Orleans today waived point guard Gal Mekel, who would be another option as is D League guard Brady Heslip.
The Wolves will play a Celtics team that traded away last night star guard Rajon Rondo to Dallas.
When told the Wolves might be catching a break by playing an undermanned opponent tonight, Williams said, "Well, they are, too."
After trying a number of different approaches to rehabbing his sore right hip, Wolves backup forward/center Ronny Turiaf traveled to New York Sunday, where he will have surgery on the hip Tuesday.
“He’s been trying the last few weeks,” Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. “He’s gone through some different situations to try to rehab that. We came to the conclusion that he’s going to have surgery.’’
Turiaf has appeared in just two games this season, getting one rebound and two assists in 18-plus minutes of playing time. He spent the first five games and the last 14 on the inactive list.
Saunders said more would be known after the surgery – which will be performed by Dr. Bryan Kelly at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York – but that Turiaf will be out a long while. “It’s a matter of if it’s going to be a while or be the season,” Saunders said.
Meanwhile, it appears that guard Mo Williams (back spasms) will miss his sixth straight game tonight.
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.
It doesn't get much easier for the Timberwolves, who tonight complete two games in which their opponents arrived at Target Center a combined 26-1.
Golden State brought a 12-game winning streak to town Monday and then made it 13 straight. Portland arrives tonight 14-1 in their last 15 games.
"I don't think I've seen anything like that before," Wolves coach Flip Saunders.
The Wolves will play again without former Blazer and veteran point guard Mo Williams, who'll miss his fourth consecutive game because of back spasms.
Saunders said before tonight's game that Shabazz Muhammad probably wouldn't have been playing this past week because of a hurting ankle but the already injury-depleted Wolves need him so badly, he continues to play on.
Saunders said Muhammad has received acupuncture treatments in an attempt to get the ankle feeling better.
Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin and Ronny Turiaf all remain out as well, of course.
The Wolves, btw, on Tuesday requested and received another 10-day roster exception for forward Jeff Adrien.
Saunders said he considered adding a point guard to help out rookie Zach LaVine there, but figures Corey Brewer is a serviceable, if not ideal, backup to LaVine and was worried where the Wolves will be if something should happen to starting center Gorgui Dieng.
If Dieng were to get injured, Saunders said the Wolves would have no other real options there, so that's what they kept Adrien on for another 10 days.
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