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.
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.
The Wolves played on without Kevin Love and Andrei Kirilenko -- and Ricky Rubio, of course -- on Saturday in their Target Center preseason debut and overcame Chicago 82-75 with a decisive 24-15 fourth quarter.
After the game, they waived center/forward Phil Jones and guard Seth Tarver to get their roster to 18 players.
Neither player appeared in any of the three preseason games.
The Wolves must get to at least the maximum 15-player roster before their Nov. 2 season opener.
Love said missed tonight's game because he slept with his right arm extended over his bed on Friday night. When he awoke Saturday, he said he couldn't shoot the ball 10 feet because he had slept on it so awkwardly.
He also said he thinks it's only a "24-hour thing."
Without those two, Dante Cunningham and Chase Budinger started.
But the guys who won the game in the fourth quarter with a group that included J.J. Barea at point, Alexey Shved at shooting guard, Nikola Pekovic at center, Budinger at small forward and Lou Amundson at power forward.
Shved made two big threes that repelled the Bulls twice, extending the lead back to five points after Chicago had pulled within a bucket.
He scored 12 of his 15 points in the fourth.
"It's good to have two guys who can handle the ball," Rick Adelman said. "He got a good experience there. It's a different arena for him."
Pekovic played nearly 39 minutes after he played just the first quarter on Friday in Indianapolis.
And he had corresponding numbers for such big minutes: 16 points, 17 rebounds.
Those 17 rebounds are the most by a Timberwolf in a preseason game since Al Jefferson had that many in 2007.
Some other things:
* Brandon Roy again looked good, scoring 13 points on 3-for-7 shooting and handing out a team-high four assists even though he didn't play at all in the fourth quarter.
Adelman said he considered putting Roy back in to close out the game, but didn't because the group already on the floor was going well.
He added that he will do that here before the preseason schedule -- which has four games left -- is over.
* Amundson and Cunningham continue to live up to Adelman's description of them as "energy guys."
Cunningham blocked Kirk Hinrich's shot from behind early in Saturday's game after he recorded six blocks Friday against the Pacers and Amundson provided the punctuation on this victory in the final three minutes when he rejected a Taj Gibson block attempt at one end and then providing an emphatic putback for a nine-point lead at the other end.
* Bulls forward Jimmy Butler played all 48 minutes, in a PRESEASON game.
* The Wolves will take Sunday off after playing back-to-back games Friday and Saturday and come back Monday for practice before playing an Israeli team on Tuesday night at Target Center.
I'll be back to blog at you on Monday.
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