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.
Six days out from Thursday's draft, the Wolves will bring six players -- all of them second-round prospects -- to Target Center on Friday.
They're bringing back Baylor forward Quincy Acy and Long Beach State point guard Casper Ware from those group workouts attending by all NBA teams at Target Center three weeks ago.
They're also bringing in Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs, Campbell University forward Eric Griffin, Alabama Birmingham forward Cameron Moore and Long Beach State forward T.J. Robinson.
So far, Royce White is the only guy brought to Target Center whom the Wolves will consider with that 18th overall pick, IF they don't trade the pick.
They'll probably bring a couple guys in early next week, but it's very likely the player they draft -- if they draft anybody -- will not have set foot inside Target Center.
Unless, of course, it's White.
Otherwise, they'll likely take somebody who falls in the draft, who thought they were going well before No. 18 so they didn't waste their time coming to Minneapolis.
That list includes guys like Duke's Austin Rivers, Washington's Terrence Ross or maybe guys like Kentucky's Terrence Jones or Baylor's Perry Jones.
Btw, White cancelled all his workouts not long after visiting Target Center last week.
ESPN.com's Chad Ford tweeted tonight that he's hearing White has got a promise from Boston with the 21st pick.
Will he still be there then?
Remember, the Wolves have the inside pipeline on White from ISU coach Fred Hoiberg...
The NBA will conduct its annual game of chance tonight before the Heat-Celtics game, only this time for the first time in eight years the Wolves and their fans won't have a rooting interest.
Unless, of course, it's rooting against New Orleans and its 1.1 percent chance to winning the No. 1 pick with the draft choice it received from the Wolves via the Clippers.
The Wolves traded that pick, of course, long ago to L.A. in a deal that sent Sam Cassell out West and brought back the now long-forgotten Marko Jaric.
Given the Wolves' lottery luck, more than a few of their most loyal fans probably rate the Hornets' real odds of winning the No. 1 overall pick with that selection at about 50-50.
The prize to the winner is the right to select Kentucky forward Anthony Davis.
On Thursday, the draft process continues at Target Center, where the Wolves and other NBA teams will have scouting representatives for the first of two days of pre-draft workouts.
These workouts will consists of players expected to go in the second round and go undrafted.
The Wolves will bring in prospects they're considering for the 18th overall pick as the June 28 draft approaches.
Here's the list of players due in Thursday, and, as always, the list is subject to change:
Morning session: Texas guard J'Covan Brown, New Mexico forward Drew Gordon, Duke center Miles Plumlee, Spanish guard Tomas Satoransky, Northwestern forward John Shurna, Memphis forward Wesley Witherspoon.
Afternoon session: Baylor forward Quincy Acy, Marquette forward Jae Crowder, Iona guard Scott Machado, Temple guard Ramone Moore, Tennessee Tech guard Kevin Murphy and Long Beach State guard Casper Ware.
The Wolves scouting staff travels to Chicago next week for interviews with draft prospects at the NBA's annual draft combine and after that, they'll bring in prospects for that 18th overall pick, guys like Washington's Terrence Ross, Kentucky's Doron Lamb, Iowa State's Royce White and others.
Thanks, Big Al!
Al Jefferson -- the guy the Wolves traded away for so far nothing tangible but cap space (which they didn't do anything really constructive with) -- has led the Utah Jazz into the playoffs, producing big in recent weeks and finishing off Tuesday's victory over Phoenix that clinched the West's final playoff spot.
He did his part with a 15-point, 16-rebound game that included a couple big buckets late in the game.
By doing so, he guaranteed his former franchise's June will be more interesting.
The Jazz's achievement means the Wolves get Utah's first-round pick, which if the season ended today would be the 17th overall pick.
Of course, the season doesn't end until Thursday night. By then, the pick could be anywhere between 15 and maybe (but unlikely) as high as 20, depending on how the final jockeying in records between the Jazz, Dallas, Denver, New York, Phialdelphia and Orlando finish.
So how much are the Wolves going to sell this first-rounder for?
ESPN.com's Chad Ford's latest mock draft has Illinois center Meyers Leonard going 17th overall, but that doesn't take into what the final draft order and what those teams' needs will be.
If you check out several mock drafts, the pool of players the Wolves likely will be looking at includes Duke shooting guard Austin Rivers, Washington guards' Tony Wroten Jr. and Terrance Ross, Mississippi State forward Arnett Moultrie, Iowa State's (and former Gopher) Royce White and possibly North Carolina's John Henson, if he falls that far.
There's no guarantee any of those players will end up with the Wolves. That pick gives them just another option to either use or trade as a piece in a deal for a veteran such Houston's Kevin Martin, who the Rockets are going to peddle by draft night and who Rick Adelman knows well.
The Wolves, as you might know if you haven't tried really, really hard to have forgotten, don't have their first-round pick.
They traded that away years ago to the Clippers in the deal that brought Marko Jaric to Minnesota.
New Orleans now owns that pick, which likely will be a Top 10 pick.
Given the Wolves' luck, the Hornets will beat the odds and turn a 1.1 percent chance into the draft's top pick.
Doesn't that sound just about right?
Anthony Tolliver has been cleared to play tonight against Cleveland and No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving after taking that nasty spill the other night against Memphis.
J.J. Barea, however, will miss his third consecutive game because of that hamstring he injured at Milwaukee in the season's second game.
Tolliver got undercut while reaching high for a ball and came somersaulting down, landing hard on his wrist as he tried to break his fall and then thumping down flat on his lower back and "upper butt" area on Wednesday night
He said he awoke Thursday morning feeling "not good, not all good at all."
"When I went to bed, I thought I was going to feel worse than I did when I woke up," he said. "But I did feel better than the night before. Every day the last two days has felt better and better. Hopefully it's something that doesn't stick around too long."
Rick Adelman has relied upon Tolliver in fourth quarters, asking him to defend LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki, among others.
I asked him at this morning's shootaround if the fall looked better or worse than it felt when he watched it again on replay.
"When it actually happened, I thought i was going to die so it was probably a little bit better than I orginally thought," he said. "When you're up in the air and then you legs come out from underneath you, you don't know what's going to happen the next couple seconds. So that was a pretty scary feeling. Luckily nothing happened, just some little bumps and bruises that hopefully will go away in the next few days."
Barea remains out for a game tonight that will feature last summer's top two draft picks, Irving and No. 2 Derrick Williams.
"I hate to be out, but I've just got to be patient with it and make sure it's ready," he said. "Take it easy. It feels really good, though, but I'm going to be patient. Maybe Sunday or Monday."
The Wolves play three games in three days -- at Washington, at Toronto, Chicago at home -- starting on Sunday.
Asked if he could possibly play three games in three days at this point, he said, "I don't know. That's something we're going to have to talk and think about and see what happens."
Btw, Martell Webster looks like he's doing more and more working out solo on the court, but the team has set no timetable yet for his return from September back surgery.
Nikola Pekovic says he's been ready to play since Sunday.
"I'm fine, I feel good," he said. "If I'm going to play, that's not my decision."
One other thing...
Here's another sign how things are changing at 600 First Ave. N.:
Fans nationally actually want to see this team play now.
The Wolves-Bulls and Phoenix-L.A. Lakers were the two games chosen by fan balloting for Tuesday's "Fan Night" doubleheader on NBA TV.
The Suns-Lakers -- the doubleheader's second half -- got 29 percent of fan voting among five game choices.
The Wolves-Bulls game got 26 percent.
That crowded roster problem the Wolves had after they struck a deal with J.J. Barea isn't quite so crowded anymore.
The Wolves are back to the limit of 15 players now that they've traded Lazar Hayward to Oklahoma City for two second-round picks.
They also acquired guard Robert Vaden and immediately waived him.
Hayward, a 6-5 swingman from Marquette, was the last player taken (30th overall) in the 2010 draft's first round.
Then coach Kurt Rambis was impressed with his shooting during pre-draft workout, but he never really found his position last season and clearly was the odd-man out after the Wolves targeted Barea in free agency.
The Wolves will have to make another move if they sign another free agent such as Jamal Crawford (still a bit of a long shot) or sign a training-camp invitee such as Bonzi Wells or Devean George.
Thunder GM Sam Presti is known for a pretty keen eye for talent and in a released statement he said the team liked him in last year's draft.
He also said Hayward is a player his scouting staff "identified as a potential fit for the culture and identity that we are continuing to build in Oklahoma City. His toughness, length and shooting are attributes that will add depth to our roster while while his professionalism and competitiveness embody the intangibles that we value as an organization."
Earlier on Tuesday, as Kent posted a few hours ago, the Wolves waived free agents Dominique Johnson and Shaun Pruitt.
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