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 play the first of seven preseason games tonight against CSKA Moscow at Target Center.
And it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to coach Rick Adelman, who isn't a big fan of international games unless he happens to be overseas.
"If you're going to Europe, it's what you do," Adelman said. "There are a lot of teams in our league. I don't know why or what the reasoning is. Last year, it was Israel (the Wolves play Maccabi Bazan Haifa) and this year it's a Russian team. I'd just as soon play NBA competition. This is supposed to be a pretty good team. But playing NBA teams you get see everybody and what everybody (in the league) is like. It is what it is. You have to go out and adjust to what's going on."
Guard J.J. Barea and forward Dante Cunningham are questionable for tonight's game.
Barea was not at this morning's shootaround because of personal reasons.
Cunningham didn't practice Sunday because of those "flu-like symptoms." He was at this morning's shootaround but still not feeling well and is a game-time decision tonight.
CSKA Moscow -- the team for which Alexey Shved played five seasons -- is one of the richest clubs in Europe and has a roster that includes former NBA players Nenad Krstic, Jeremy Pargo, Sonny Weems as well as Sasha Kaun, Viktor Khryapa, Milos Teodosic and Shved's 2012 Olympic and 2013 Eurobasket teammate Vitaly Fridzon.
This probably was a much more attractive matchup for the NBA and its international sales department when Andrei Kirilenko played for the Wolves.
"I'm sure that's what happened," Adelman said about a game that was scheduled when both Shved and Kirilenko played for the Wolves. "I'd rather be playing an NBA team, but that's not the schedule."
Adelman is ready for his team to be playing someone else, no matter who it is.
"I think we need one," he said. "You don't really get a good feel where you are until you play another team and see how guys respond against another team's offense and running your stuff against their defense."
Adelman said he wants to play lots of people, particularly since tonight's game starts a stretch where the Wolves play four games in the next six nights, including a weird back-to-back set Wednesday at Toronto and Thursday in Sioux Falls.
He intends to play 12 or 13 guys tonight, then will play the other four or five in Toronto.
If Cunningham and Barea don't play, that makes his decisions tonight easier.
Then the Wolves don't play for eight days after Saturday's home game against the Raptors until they go to Montreal to play Boston on Oct. 22.
"That's not the way I'd want to do it, but it's the way they set it up," Adelman said. "Just like I'm not a big fan of traveling to Canada twice in the preseason, going through customs and everything. You don't get seven days off in the regular season, so we'll have a pretty good idea of where we are and have a whole week to look at film and get back ready for the last three games."
Wolves coach Rick Adelman missed this afternoon's training-camp practice -- the third of four here in Mankato before they head for home Friday afternoon -- so he could attend a family funeral.
He is expected to be back for Friday morning's workout, after which the Wolves will head for home to prepare for Monday's preseason opener against CSKA Moscow.
Top assistant Terry Porter and the rest of the staff (including David Adelman) carried on in his absence, conducting a 2 1/2-hour workout that was shorter in duration after the team went three hours-plus each of their first two days in Mankato.
Team owner Glen Taylor again stopped by to watch practice, making the short drive up the hill from his Taylor Corp's North Mankato campus.
One other tidbit:
Chase Budinger will remain in Pensacola, Fla. -- where he had arthroscopic surgery Monday to remove part of his lateral meniscus that was repaired last November -- for the time being to rehab.
He has moved into a condo there and will undergo therapy daily under the supervision of Dr. James Andrews' crew. The fact that Andrews removed part of the meniscus rather than try to repair it again should shorten Budinger's recovery time from months (four months last time) to weeks, probably anywhere from four to eight weeks.
And in case you missed it...
Here's a few links from these first three days here in Mankato:
* I've ripped off colleague's Mike Russo's "Wild Minute" with my very own "Wolves Daily," a quick video hit after each day of practice http://www.startribune.com/video/226372061.html#/226372061/video/1/hpmrt
* For those of you who can't get enough of Shabazz Muhammad news, here's my Day 2 story on him. Adelman -- and others -- have been impressed with his offensive rebounding and Kevin Love calls him a "bull" out there. http://www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/226240271.html
* And from opening day here, a piece about new Wolf Ronny Turiaf and his journey from the heart to Minnesota, made possible in part by his friendship with former Wolf and current Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg. http://www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/226066511.html
The Wolves held their annual media day this afternoon at Target Center before heading to Mankato late this afternoon.
They will practice there once a day -- long, 3 to 4 hour practices, though -- before returning from Glen Taylor's home town on Friday afternoon.
I'll have a long Rick Adelman story and a chunky notebook up on the Strib site later this evening, but for now some impressions:
* Lean and mean seems to be the theme this year.
Kevin Love looks great. He claimed he didn't know his weight and wouldn't say what his body fat was down to, but he looks like the best shape of his career.
Derrick Williams looked almost skinny and said he feels that way. He said he weighs 235 pounds after playing at 250 last season and 245 in college at Arizona.
He lost that weight so he's better suited to play small forward.
"A little bit," he said when asked if he feels skinny. "Just different. I'm used to be being bigger."
Rookie Shabazz Muhammad said he's lost between 10 and 15 pounds, thanks to a new workout regimen and better eating habits.
Alexey Shved said he weighs the same as last year, but is stronger.
"I make muscles," he said.
J.J Barea said he is in one of the best shapes of his life as well.
* Muhammad said he wrote a letter to Flip Saunders and Taylor after he got sent home on the first day of the league's rookie symposium for having a woman in his room and said he vowed that it won;'t happen again.
* Flip has said the team might give Shved, Barea and Ricky Rubio time off here in camp and during the preseason schedule because they played in August and September with their national teams. But Rubio wasn't having any of that. He said he's 100 percent part of team and plans to do everything his teammates do.
* Love made it clear during his media session that he has little interest in talking about his lost season last year or about gone David Kahn: Last year is last year is the theme he repeated.
* Good quote from Corey Brewer about his return to the Wolves. “I like Minnesota. We weren’t winning too much when I was here but I wasn’t too good when I was here, either.”
* Chase Budinger was seen by Dr. James Andrews in Alabama but the team said it had no update because all the results weren't back. There's a chance he could see Rubio's surgeon in Vail as well.
* The Wolves formally added A.J. Price to the training-camp roster Monday to bring the number to 18 players for camp.
* When asked what his starting lineup is, Adelman said there's no question about four spots -- Rubio, Kevin Martin, Love and Nikole Pekovic, of course -- and said Brewer likely is the starting small forward now that Budinger is injured again because Brewer has played in the league for six years and done it before.
Look for the Wolves today to add fifth-year NBA guard A.J. Price to their training-camp roster.
Price played his first three seasons with Indiana and spent last season at Washington, where new Wolves GM Milt Newton worked in the front office.
Price's arrival will expand the Wolves' training-camp roster to 18 players after they signed Robbie Hummel, Lorenzo Brown and Othyus Jeffers on Thursday to participate next week in Mankato.
The Wolves have 14 guaranteed contracts, which means they have one open spot, right?
David Kahn quietly signed Chris Johnson to a guaranteed $916,000 contract for this season. By NBA standards, that contract is nothing, so the Wolves, if they so choose, could decide to waive Johnson if Flip Saunders and Rick Adelman want to add two players instead of one.
Such a move probably would depend on if Gorgui Dieng shows in preseason that he's ready to play sooner rather than later.
If Dieng shows he's ready for reliable minutes, the Wolves could keep an extra point guard in either Price or Brown and add Jeffers, a wing defender in the mold of Mickael Gelabale last season, as well.
The Wolves today, as expected, officially announced they have signed prospects Robbie Hummel, Lorenzo Brown and Othyus Jeffers to their training-camp roster.
All three played on the Wolves' Las Vegas summer-league team.
Hummel and Brown are the team's former second-round picks, Hummel in 2012 and Brown in June.
That brings the camp roster to 17 players.
The Wolves have talked with former UConn guard A.J. Price about a training-camp invite as well.
Training camp begins with four days of practice in Mankato starting Tuesday.
Of the three players signed Thursday, Brown probably is most likely to claim the 15th and final roster spot left, unless someone wows in October. The Wolves also could fill that spot by searching the league for a player via trade or signing who becomes available as teams finalize their roster at October's end.
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