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.

Posts about Wolves management

It's a deal: $97 million Target Center renovation agreement reached

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: October 28, 2013 - 10:41 AM

There's a "new" Target Center coming your way Wolves Nation, in about 2 or 2 1/2 years.

They had a news conference down at Target Center this morning to announce there's finally a deal after many delays while negotiations simmered: The city of Minneapolis will contribute $48.5 million, the Wolves $43 million and AEG arena management $5.5 million. There also will be a $50 million capital improvement fund to "continue to keep the facility competitive."

The deal will extend the leases of the Wolves and Lynx to 2032.

Design work begins this winter, construction is set to start next summer with a timeline of 18 to 24 months for completion.

Improvements includes:

* Redesign of the arena's exterior.

* More gathering/meeting spaces and additional club areas.

* "Improved amenities" in both lower and upper seating areas.

* Improved pedestrian flow into, out of and throughout the arena.

* Modernized loading docks.

* Increased seating capacity for concerts and family shows.

You can also expect Glen Taylor's plans to build office and practice facilities in the mostly abandoned Block E complex to get the fast track now.

Wolves release Jeffers, Brown today, one more move needed

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: October 25, 2013 - 4:23 PM

The Wolves released veteran forward Othyus Jeffers and rookie Lorenzo Brown today.

They need to make at least one more roster move before Monday afternoon's deadline to submit their 15-man list to the NBA.

That leaves three guys left -- Robbie Hummel, A.J. Price and Chris Johnson -- for two remaining spots.

They'll keep Hummel and Price if they -- or rather owner Glen Taylor -- agree(s) to buy out Johnson's guaranteed $916,000 contract for this season to open up a second roster spot.

The Wolves also will scout the waiver wire to see if there might be a veteran wing out there who can defend some and shoot the three preferably.

The Wolves drafted Brown, a 6-5 guard from North Carolina State, late in the second round last summer. They lose his rights now by releasing him and he's free to sign elsewhere.

Jeffers was on a flight back home to Chicago this afternoon seated next to/near Strib's Wild beat Mike Russo, who tipped me off to Jeffers' release.

The Wolves also could officially announce today that they've picked up 2014-15 contract options on Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio.


Derrick Williams gets much-needed job security

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: October 22, 2013 - 2:23 PM

Well, pen hasn’t been put to paper yet. But Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders talked via phone with forward Derrick Williams today, informing him of the team’s intent to pick up his option for next season. It should be official by the end of the week. Saunders, who is on the road, will be back in town and the two will meet face-to-face Friday to seal the deal.

“It helps, (having) the security,” said Williams, whose option for the 2014-15 season will bring him close to $6.7 million. “You’re guaranteed at least one more year in the NBA. As long as you have that, I think everything is good.”

For Williams, security is a pretty big deal. It seems one rumor after another has had him out of town basically from the time he was picked second overall in the 2011 draft. Not that this will change things that much. Saunders has said from the beginning it doesn’t make sense to let assets walk away from the organization. So the team was going to pick up this option on Williams pretty much no matter what. Williams has the security of knowing his contract is guaranteed, but he doesn’t know for sure where that job will take him. Still, that guarantee is important.

Williams, entering his second season, has yet to establish himself as a starter with the Wolves. Indeed, he was challenged by the Wolves during camp, a challenge coach Rick Adelman said Williams has accepted. “I think he’s played very hard,” Adelman said. “He rebounded the ball very well the other night. It’s a process for him. It’s hard, because he has had to play two spots. He has to jump back and forth.’’

Williams has bounced between power forward and small forward. Adelman started Williams at the small forward spot in Minnesota’s preseason victory over Boston in Montreal Sunday. For Williams, the biggest challenge at the small forward position is on defense. “At that spot you’re playing a totally different player than you are at the four spot,” Adelman said.

That said, Williams – who dropped 20 pounds during the offseason trying to add more quickness, appears to be a player eager to take the next step.

“I was 20 years old when I got into the NBA and now I’m 22,” Williams said. “And I’m still growing and I’m still learning. I’ve always heard that, as you get older, you’re going to figure things out. And that’s what I’ve been doing.’’

Williams, who worked with the second unit through most of training camp, said he was a little surprised to get the start Sunday.  But he said he hopes to have more going forward. “Being in the starting lineup? I think I deserve to be. That’s why they drafted me here. They didn’t draft me to come off the bench, things like that. Ultimately, it’s up to coach. I’m just here to play basketball.”

Adelman said he plans on using different starting lineups over the next two preseason games, starting Wednesday night in Philadelphia, in order to help figure out his rotations. In a perfect world, Adelman said he’d like to bring Corey Brewer off the bench rather than start him at small forward because of the energy he can bring to the game in a reserve role.

Meanwhile, the team also has until the start of the regular season to pick up Ricky Rubio’s $5 million option for next season and will do so; the decision on Rubio’s contract is nothing but a formality.

Here are some other tidbits from today’s practice:

--Adelman praised the improved consistency his starters showed Sunday, especially in the second half of the victory over Boston. “They came out and they were much more intense in that second half than they were earlier,” Adelman said.

--Adelman was asked how hard it is to be the coach of a team that travels as much or more than any other team in the league. Specifically, he was asked if he ever tried to address it with the league. “We asked the league to change it,” he deadpanned. “And they sent us to Mexico. So, don’t ask again.”

That’s about it for now. Jerry will pick up the team in Philly.

Wolves to pick up Williams, Rubio contract options

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: October 22, 2013 - 2:11 PM

The Wolves will pick up Derrick Williams' $6.7 million contract option for 2014-15 and do the same with Ricky Rubio's $5 million option as well, a team source confirms.

The decision on Rubio's contract before next week's season opener is nothing but a formality.

The Williams' decision pretty much was one, too, despite all the Internet chatter whether they'd really commit to another contract that could leave them fairly handcuffed right near the luxury tax.

Flip Saunders has said his philosophy is you can't just let assets walk away for nothing, and Williams would have been an unrestricted free agent next summer if they didn't pick up the option.

And you particularly don't do it with former No. 2 pick, even if Williams still is trying to find his way in the league here in his third year.

Saunders obviously feels Williams is an asset -- at least a $6.7M one -- whether it's for the Wolves long term or to trade here for another asset either sooner or later.

Saunders reminds often that Williams is just 22.

By picking up the Williams option, the Wolves could just be limited to the mid-level exception next summer to make moves under the cap, unless they make other transactions to cut payroll.

Training camp countdown: Wolves introduce Turiaf

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: September 18, 2013 - 2:24 PM

The Wolves officially introduced veteran center Ronny Turiaf today before a youthful audience at the Ronald McDonald House on the U of M campus today and he showed up with the No. 32 jersey he will wear in Minnesota.

Turiaf has worn No. 21 much of his career, but Kevin Garnett wore that for the Wolves all those years, of course.

Turiaf called Garnett “my favorite player, one of my favorite players” and said “I love his passion for the game. Out of respect, I could not wear No. 21.”

So he called heart-surgery soulmate Fred Hoiberg and asked the Iowa State coach for his “blessing” to wear the 32 that Hoiberg once wore for the Wolves.

Hoiberg and Turiaf have become friends for life, bond together by the same heart surgery each had nearly a decade ago.

“We have this special bond nobody but the two of us can understand,” Turiaf said. “I thought, for me, it was so natural to pay homage. He helped me get through the most difficult time of my life.”

Here’s a bunch of other stuff from chats with Flip Saunders and Turiaf this morning:

  • Spain advanced to the Eurobasket semifinals by just clobbering Serbia today, which means Ricky Rubio likely won’t arrive here for training camp until just before media day on Sept. 30. Don’t expect Ricky – and probably others – to play both games of the team’s two back-to-back situations in the preseason. Rubio, Alexey Shved and J.J. Barea – all of whom played for their national teams this summer – probably will be given some rest early in training camp.

Also now that Flip’s in charge, don’t expect back-to-back games next preseason. He doesn’t like them.

  • Kevin Love is due in town on Friday, Nikola Pekovic is expected to arrive over the weekend. Rick Adelman will arrive next week and Shved, Barea and almost everyone else other than Rubio will be here as well.
  • Saunders praised Shved’s Eurobasket play for a Russian team that got knocked out early. “He played really good,” he said. “What I liked about him is he kept his composure. He was their best player.”
  • He said the same about Barea, whose Puerto Rico team lost to Mexico in the FIBA Americas final.  “He had a great tournament. If they had won it, he’d probably be the Player of the Tournament. He looks like he as lost a little weight, playing as much as he has. He just looked in great shape.”
  • Likewise, Saunders said rookie Shabazz Muhammad has lost weight since the Vegas Summer League in July and said it’s the best shape he’s seen him in all year. For what it’s worth, he also said Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng have “made a lot of progress” since summer. They’ve been working out daily with new player development coach Bobby Jackson.
  • Saunders didn’t go to Slovenia for Eurobasket, but scout Zarko Durisic has been there and just got back a few days ago.
  • Look for player liaison Calvin Booth to join assistant coach Jack Sikma in working with the big men during the preseason.
  • There’s still a chance the Wolves could add a player to their training camp roster. Discussions with agents continue.
  • The Wolves have until late October to decide whether to pick up Derrick Williams’ $6.2 million player option for the 2014-15 season. Doing so will likely nudge the team up to the luxury-tax line and take away whatever salary-cap flexibility they might have left. There will be plenty of Internet chatter whether guaranteeing him that money is wise, but Saunders on Wednesday sounded like it might not be much of a decision. “I know what he’s done this summer. We’ll see how it translates. I’ve said all along I’ve always been a big fan of his. Just because there’s a timeline and that, but I feel and I believe he’s going to be here. We’ll what all transpires.”
  • Turiaf on new practice mate, big Pek: “Pound for pound, he’s the strongest center that I have had to guard, hands down. You’ve seen him.” Turiaf also used the word “relentless” to describe Pek.
  • The Ronald McDonald House gym that the Wolves remodeled last year now is named in honor of Conrad Smith, the former Wolves executive and all-around good guy who died from brain cancer in January.
  • Saunders said Turiaf “might be the biggest kid in the gym today” at a Ronald McDonald House gym that was full of ‘em on Wednesday. He meant it in a good way.
  • When asked what still is left on his to-do list with camp now just 13 days away, Flip said, “Close the cabin.”


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