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.
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.
The Wolves have agreed to contract terms with one of the last unfinished pieces to a remade roster: A source with knowledge of the situation confirms a Yahoo!Sports report this afternoon that Robinson has agreed to a guaranteed contract.
Once considered a first-round pick, Robinson was drafted 40th overall by the Wolves in the June draft and played for their Vegas Summer League team without being signed until now.
His signing to a contract that is at least partially guaranteed means the Wolves they'll have to make a personnel move by opening night Oct. 29 to get to a 15-man roster, either by waiving Robinson if he doesn't win a spot in camp or, probably more likely by trading or buying out reserve guard J.J Barea by the start of training camp on Sept. 30 or by the season opener at Memphis.
Kevin Love has told Team USA he will not be able to play for it this summer because of his current unsettled situation with the Timberwolves.
USA Basketball's Jerry Colangelo announced it this morning, two days before the national team is set to begin workouts in Las Vegas for the World Cup that will be played in Spain starting little more than a month from now.,
The tweet that referred to the organization's news release said Love is unavailable for the five-day training camp in Las Vegas while the release itself said he won't play for Team USA this summer.
Love could be traded by Aug. 23, 30 days after Cleveland rookie Andrew Wiggins signed his NBA contract and is eligible by NBA rules to be traded.
The World Cup starts Aug. 30, but probably the only way Love still plays for the U.S team is if he's a late injury replacement just before tournament play begins and just after he is traded, if he is by then.
I'm sure neither the Wolves nor the Cavaliers -- the favorite to acquire Love -- want to see him get hurt while playing this next month.
"The fact is we can only look to the players we have available," Colangelo said in the release. "Our job is to get the job done with our very, very deep roster and we're anxious to get things started."
The Team USA roster currently incldues big men DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, Kevin Durant and Chandler Parsons, all of whom could play either center or at least some power forward in the international game.
Love played on the 2010 World Championship team that won a gold medal in Turkey and also won gold with the U.S. Olympic team in London in 2012.
Cleveland officially, finally signed No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins this afternoon to a rookie contract that will pay him about $5.5 million this coming season.
That's the clock counting down on the next 30 days, the time both the Cavs and the Timberwolves must wait before Wiggins can be traded.
The Wolves need to wait though that period because they need Wiggins' $5.5 million salary to make any Kevin Love trade work under the NBA's salary-cap rules.
Until this afternoon, Wiggins held no value in a trade of a salaries.
Now, you can put his $5.5 million salary with 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett's similar salary, add one, two or all three of those non-guaranteerd contracts the Cavs acquired from Utah the other day and...now you're talking deal.
You'll continue to hear all kinds of rumors until Aug. 23 -- the end of the 30 days -- including probably many reports that the teams have reached a deal.
I doubt such a deal will be reached until near the end of those 30 days because nothing's binding until then. The parameters of a deal -- Love for Wiggins, Bennett and one of Cavs' future first-round pick probably -- likely has been discussed between the teams, but if the Wolves agreed now they'd be taking teams like Chicago and Golden State out of the picture.
The more teams interested, the better the Wolves' leverage. For now.
It also gives the Wolves more time to seek a third team from whom they could buy cap space to take the contracts of J.J. Barea and/or Alexey Shved.
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