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 continue this four games-in-six days stretch tonight with their action against an NBA opponent tonight in Toronto.
Dante Cunningham and J.J. Barea both are here with the team and are expected to play some tonight after each missed Monday's preseason-opening loss to CSKA Moscow.
Cunningham missed Sunday's practice and Monday's game because he was feeling ill and Rick Adelman sas no need to push him Monday night even though Cunningham participated in warmups and said he was ready to play. Barea took an absence Monday because of a personal matter.
Also expect rookies Gorgui Dieng and Lorenezo Brown and big man Chris Johnson to play tonight after they sat out Monday just because Adelman can't play 16-18 guys in a game.
That'll mean somebody(ies) sit out tonight. Perhaps that is Othyus Jeffers and A.J. Price after they got relatively long runs Monday.
The Wolves had a brief meeting with NBA officials after shootaround this morning to go over points of emphasis this season.
Some of them also greeted and hugged Raptors assistant coach Bill Bayno, who left the Wolves last summer to become former Wolves coach Dwane Casey's top assistant here.
Bayno said after the Raptors' shoot that it was a tough decision but several factors weighed in his decision: The uncertainty over whether Adelman would return and the departure of David Kahn, who hired him, and arrival of Flip Saunders, a guy who doesn't know well. The chance to work with Jonas Valanciunas, another big man (his specialty) after Bayno worked with big Pek so much in Minnesota. And Toronto is the kind of big, international city that makes him feel at home after growing up near New York City.
Here's a video preview of the game with my Wolves Daily report from Toronto today.
After tonight, the Wolves fly away to Sioux Falls, S.D. for one of the more unusual back-to-back sets -- Toronto, Sioux Falls -- in NBA travel with a game against the Bucks there Thursday night.
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."
The Timberwolves this morning say Chase Budinger will be sidelined "indefinitely" after he needed arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a meniscus cartilage tear.
The team said an update will be provided "when appropriate."
It's the same injury -- lateral meniscus -- as last season when he needed surgery and was out four months, but this time Dr. James Andrews removed the lateral meniscus cartilage rather than repairing it.
That should speed up the recovery time, but a timetable won't be set -- be it weeks or months -- until the knee has some time (probably a couple weeks) to heal.
Budinger was participating in pickup games as recently as last week, but the team announced last last week that he had suffered a setback and would travel to Alabama to visit Andrews after experiencing swelling and soreness in the knee.
Andrews performed last November's knee surgery on Budinger.
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.
The Wolves this morning announced that newly signed Chase Budinger has injured the cartilage in his left knee, the same one that kept him out for four months last season.
Budinger will visit Dr. James Andrews early next week in Birmingham, Alabama, and Flip Saunders said this afternoon that Budinger might see Ricky Rubio's surgeon, Dr. Richard Steadman, in Vail, Colorado as well.
Budinger will have arthroscopic surgery to explore swelling in the knee that has developed recently.
"The main thing is, we want to get it right," Saunders said.
Budinger last week said his knee was recovered from last winter's surgery, but he also said it remained sore after workouts and required ice treatments that he'd probably have to do all season.
Andrews was the surgeon who operated on Budinger's left knee to repair a torn meniscus last November after he injured it in a game in Chicago.
The Wolves in July signed Budinger to a three-year, $15 million contract. Saunders said a physical exam then showed everything was fine, as did a visit with Andrews about a month ago.
Saunders said the new problem with Budinger's knee developed in the last month and said it wasn't caused by one particular hit or twist while playing.
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