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.
Flip Saunders cautious all through the preseason, aiming to reach tonight's opener with one objective in mind: Stay healthy.
Well, here it is tonight in Memphis and the Wolves will go without starting shooting guard Kevin Martin and backup center Ronny Turiaf.
Martin hurt his ankle when he tried to block a shot in practice Tuesday and came down on Shabazz Muhammad's foot.
With the Wolves about to play three games in four nights now, the Wolves are exercising cautious, hoping he'll be ready to play tomorrow night aganist Detroit in the home opener.
With him out, expect Corey Brewer to start alongside rookie Andrew Wiggins on the wing.
Yes, I can confirm ESPN.com's Marc Stein tweets this afternoon that the Wolves are working on an agreement to release veteran guard J.J. Barea by Monday's NBA deadline to submit final rosters.
That decision will get them down to 15 players afterthey waived Brady Heslip yesterday.
It also means they're keeping a roster spot for rookie Glenn Robinson III.
What it likely came down to is this: Flip Saunders wanted Barea on the team and envisioned a role for him, but it wasn't one in which he could guarantee Barea playing time every game.
Barea told me Friday he saw a role for him here but said he wants to play every game.
Inevitably, the two sides probably decided that neither be happy with the role Flip envisioned, hence the decision to pay off probably most of Barea's $4.5 million due this season.
I say probably most rather than all because Stein also reported that Barea is expected to return to Dallas where he won a NBA title in 2011 after/if he clears waivers.
The Mavs, though, would have to clear a roster spot to make way for him.
The Wolves announced Saturday that guard Brady Heslip had been waived.
Heslip, 24, appeared in four preseason games, scoring five points with two steals. The former Baylor player had also played for the Wolves in the summer league.
The Wolves' roster now stands at 16, which means one more move has to be made by the Monday deadline o reach the limit of 15 players,
The Wolves conclude this long preseason -- three to five games too long, by Flip Saunders' estimation -- with tonight's finale against Chicago in St. Louis.
Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad both would be healthy enough to play in this were Wednesday's season opener at Memphis, but Saunders is staying cautious and keeping both out tonight.
Corey Brewer will start for Wiggins in a lineup beside Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin in the backcourt and Brewer, Nikola Pekovic and Thad Young up front.
This will be the third consecutive game out for Wiggins, who bruised his behind in a nasty fall Sunday in Tulsa against Oklahoma City. Saunders wants him to get two good practice days in before he plays again. Those practice days will be Sunday and Monday.
Muhammad's Achilles grew sore after Wednesday's game in Milwaukee and Saunders decided to rest him too after he played good minutes in back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday.
Anthony Bennett says he's feeling better now. He played just eight minutes Wednesday not because of that sore knee but from what he thought was a reaction to something he ate, perhaps a breakfast of eggs.
The Wolves have until 5 p.m. Monday to get their 17-man roster down to 15 men.
Yes, Flip Saunders is taking it easy on the old guys here as the Wolves' preseason schedule ticks away.
Flip said before tonight's game that Corey Brewer, Kevin Martin, Ronny Turiaf and Mo Williams all are getting the night off here in Milwaukee on the second half of back-to-back games after last night's home victory over Indiana.
Rookie Andrew Wiggins also will not play because of that bruised butt he injured in a fall Sunday in Tulsa and that kept him out of last night's game, too.
Tonight's likely starters are Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad, Chase Budinger, Thad Young and Nikola Pekovic.
Flip hasn't spend much time this preseason trying to build chemsitry by playing his likely starters and probable rotations together a lot, but he didn't sound too concerned when I asked him about before last night's game.
He was more concerned with getting to next Wednesday's season opener at Memphis without a serious injury and said they've had enough time playing guys together in practices to form that chemistry.
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