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 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.
The Wolves are getting even busier:
They've now have agreed to trade a future first-round pick to Atlanta for rookie power forward Adreian Payne, a league sources says.
The first-round pick can't be any earlier than 2016 or 2017 because they're already committed to trading a future first to Boston.
That Payne trade follows Wolves a deal in which they're trading Mo Williams and Troy Daniels to Charlotte for Gary Neal and a 2019 second-round pick.
In essence, the trade is Williams for a second-round pick, which is pretty much his value for a guy with a $3.7 million contract that expires after this season.
Neal has an expiring $3,25 million contract as well and makes the money work in the deal and the Wolves probably asked the Hornets to take Daniels' minimal contract for this season and next as well.
The draft pick is Miami's in 2019.
The Hornets are committed to making the playoffs and Williams gives them a veteran backup point guard who can fill a bigger role until Kemba Walker returns from knee surgery.
Mo said yesterday that he was thinking about the upcoming trade deadline "every day" and he said that every day he woke up without a call, he was still a Timberwolf.
Presumably that call comes today.
In a statement, Flip Saunders called the trade "a difficult decision because of what Mo brought to our team and the impact he had on our young guys. As a coach, you wanted to keep him because of his professionaism and understanding of what you wanted out of him as a player. He scored 52 points against Indiana and did everything we asked him to do. On the other side, we knew were moving in a different direction with our youth so we felt it was in our best interest to make the deal."
The 2-for-1 deal gives the Wolves a roster spot they could use for a free-agent signing or trade.
The trade come nine days before the Feb. 19 trade deadline.
Thad Young is a possible trade candidate as well. So, too, although less likely, is Kevin Martin. And of course, Chase Budinger if the Wolves can anyone to take his $5 million salary for next season.
YahooSport first reported the trade.
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.
No surprise here, but the Timberwolves today announced they have waived training-camp invitee center Kyrylo Fesenko to get their roster down to 17 players.
Former Baylor guard Brady Heslip remains, for now.
Barring something really unforeseen, he'll, too, be waived, even though Flip Saunders said after Sunday's victory over Oklahoma City in Tulsa that he believes Heslip will play in the NBA because he shoots the ball so well.
The real question is what the Wolves do over the weekend or early next week to get from 16 players down to the maximum 15?
Do they do the most cost-efficient thing and pay off Glenn Robinson III's very small guarantee?
Do they trade or buyout J.J. Barea, the team's third point guard despite what Saunders has called impressive play throughout the preseason.
Do they pay off Robbie Hummel's fully guaranteed but minimum contract instead?
Or do they find a team willing to take Chase Budinger's fully guaranteed contract for the next three years.
I still think the Budinger move is most likely just because of the four options, he's the most expendable if the Wolves can find a willing team.
The Wolves probably keep Robinson because of his potential and cost efficiency.
They probably keep Hummel just because, as was shown Sunday in Tulsa, they'll need him as a third power forward if Thad Young or Anthony Bennett gets hurt. When Bennett's knee proved too sore, Hummel played 19 minutes Sunday and played well.
And Barea might have been the best point guard in training camp and gives the Wolves insurance if something happens to Ricky Rubio and Mo Williams. If one gets injured, do the Wolves at this point want to rely on Zach LaVine as their backup point guard. By keeping Barea, it also keep open the option that another NBA team will lose a point guard to injury, possibly increasing Barea's trade value.
Budinger is experienced and the Wolves sure could use his three-point shooting, but the Wolves already have Andrew Wiggins, Corey Brewer, Shabazz Muhammad, Robinson, Hummel and Young who all can play there as well.
That decision could come soon after the Wolves play their final preseason game Friday at St. Louis against Chicago.
Reports out of Phoenix and from ESPN.com this afternoon say the Timberwolves are willing to pay restricted-free agent point guard Eric Bledsoe a maximum 4-year, $63 million contract that they aren't willing to give Ricky Rubio.
The Wolves are well over the salary cap and in no position to make such an offer outright, not without acquring Bledsoe in a sign-and-trade with his current team, the Phoenix Suns.
That's where things get tricky for a deal that doesn't seem to be there right now.
The Wolves currently are in the same situation with Rubio as the Suns are with Bledsoe, trying to reach agreement on a contract extension with a point guard whose camp believes he's worth much more than the team believes.
It's unlikely the Suns would accept Rubio back in a straight swap, especially considering they already have point guards Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas and considering they'd be back in the same situation with Rubio as they are with Bledsoe.
Bledsoe reportedly has rejected the Suns' four-year, $48 million offer and is prepared to pay out this season to become an unrestricted free agent if he doesn't get a max deal.
If the Wolves pay Bledsoe that max deal, Rubio's agents probably wouldn't accept anything less than the same.
The Wolves owe the Suns their protected first-round pick in 2015, and could reduce or eliminate that protection to help sweeten a deal that would have to includes salaries to match Bledsoe's $15 million-plus average salary. The Wolves also have a $6 million-plus trade exception gained from the Kevin Love deal they could apply to acquire Bledsoe.
The Suns don't appear to have any interest in Rubio or center Nikola Pekovic, who makes $12 million a season, and the Wolves wouldn't have any interest in surrendering any of their young players -- Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Gorgui Dieng -- that the Suns might like.
Bledsoe's name came up in trade discussions when the Suns pursue Love before the Wolves traded their three-time All Star to Cleveland last month.
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