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.
Down to just 7 1/2 healthy men last night, the Wolves today signed D League guard Sean Kilpatrick to a 10-day contract before tonight's game at New York.
The Wolves received a hardship roster exception from the NBA to do so because they have so few healthy players.
Kilpatrick, 25, averaged 13.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 42 games with Delaware and Santa Cruz this season. He's 6-4 and played four seasons at Cincinnati, wasn't drafted last summer but played with Philadelphia's summer-league team and briefly was with Golden State in the preseason.
Ricky Rubio played last night's game at Toronto seemingly on one healthy leg. This gives the Wolves another backcourt option once Kilpatrick joins the team.
This time last year, Andrew Wiggins was preparing to play for Kansas in the NCAA tournament.
Tonight, he returns home to Toronto to play as a professional for the first time in a game when Ricky Rubio likely will return to the lineup.
He used the term "mind-blowing" to describe all that's happened in the last year, leading to him being the runaway favorite for what he called this morning his ultimate goal this year: Winning Rookie of the Year.
He was asked about all kinds of things by a big media crowd who turned out at the Wolves' morning shootaround.
Of course, somebody asked him about the possibility of returning to Toronto as a free agent someday -- as soon as possible -- to play for the Raptors.
"I love Minnesota," Wiggins said. "They treat me nice up there, so I plan to be there a very, very, very long time."
Rubio said he isn't sure if he'll play tonight, but he'll likely be the only one from among Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Garnett and Gary Neal -- all four didn't play Monday against Brooklyn -- who'll play against the Raptors.
Tonight's game is also the return of fellow former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, who grew up in Toronto as well, and Wolves assistant coach Sam Mitchell, the former Raptors head coach who will coach tonight's game for Flip Saunders.
Saunders is away from the team to be with his ailing father.
Greetings from Target Center, where the Wolves and Nets should tip off in about 40 minutes.
the Wolves will once again be short-handed tonight. Kevin Garnett, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Gary Neal are all out of action tonight, leaving coach Flip Saunders with eight healthy players to dress.
“We’re just like the hotel chain, Super 8,’’ he said, referring to the number of players who will likely dress tonight. “That’s probably what we’ll be going with tonight.’’
Flip said Rubio was close to returning and thought he would play in Toronto on Wednesday. “He thought getting another two days rest would be good for him,’’ Saunders said. “He’ll be able to play in Toronto.’’
Saunders said Garnett was planning on getting a second opinion on his sore left knee Monday night.
But that just means more minutes for Lorenzo Brown, Zach LaVine, Adreian Payne and Justin Hamilton. That kind of opportunity is good for those young players, though Saunders did say he’s concerned about the wear and tear on rookie Andrew Wiggins, who has been playing big minutes.
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you after the game.
Tonight Thaddeus Young will play his first game at Target Center since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets for Kevin Garnett Feb. 19.
One reason for the trade was the Wolves' desire to get someting in return for Young, who had indicated to the Wolves that he wouild not exercise the $9.721 million option he has for next year. The Wolves ended up bringing Garnett home.
Young has not indicated whether he will exercise his option in order to stay with the Nets. But Brooklyn, which is still at least in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, got a young player who can help then down the stretch. The Wolves, meanwhile, got the return of Garnett, whose influence on the young players is more important at this point than what he does on the court.
To Young, it was a case of both teams benefiting from the move. It was also a move he felt was necessary, which is why he told the team about his decision not to return to the team next season.
“I think it was more of just where we were going (as a team),’’ he said after the Nets' morning shootaround. “We went from being a team that could have possibly, potentially, made the playoffs with everyone being healthy to where we were trading guys and just getting younger. The direction changed throughout the course of the season.’’
Critical early injuries to Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin essentially changed the Wolves’ priorities, with coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders opting for the chance to develop young players. The Wolves traded veteran forward/guard Corey Brewer to Houston in December and veteran guard Mo Williams to Charlotte in February.
“At that point in time, with the direction we were going, that was probably likeliest to happen,” Young said of the trade. “But I think they did a very good job, as far as going out there and shopping around, working with my agent, working with me personally as a player. Just keeping me abreast of the situation. The good thing was, there wasn’t anything behind closed doors or anything going on crazy.’’
Young’s one regret in his time in Minnesota was that, in his opinion, he didn’t hit his stride until right before the All Star break. “I wish it could have been a little better, as far as the start to the season,” he said. “But I built some relationships here, loved the fans, loved the support I was given here.’’
Young has averaged 13.0 points and 4.7 rebounds while playing about 25 minutes per game in Brooklyn. That compares to averages of 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 33½ minutes with the Wolves. But Young’s production has improved since being inserted into the Nets starting lineup four games ago. Saturday, in a victory over Philadelphia, Young scored 21 points with nine rebounds, both highs with the Nets.
“He’s played well since he’s been here,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “But he’s still not acclimated to everything we do. But basketball is basketball, and he has good instincts. So he’s been able to play well. But he still doesn’t’ know all the calls. He doesn’t know all the defensive schemes yet. So the process is ongoing.”
Meanwhile, the Wolves have released their injury report for tonight’s game. Garnett (sore left knee), Gary Neal (right ankle), Pekovic (right ankle) and Rubio (right ankle) are all listed as questionable. Anthony Bennett (right ankle), Robbie Hummel (right hand) and Shabazz Muhammad (finger surgery) are out.
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you before tonight’s game.
If Gregg Popovich thought the Wolves were shorthanded and it wasn't a fair fight earlier this season, well, get a load of tonight:
The Wolves are down to eight healthy players for tonight's 6 p.m. game at San Antonio.
Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Gary Neal all are out because of injured ankle. Kevin Garnett is out, too, presumably because of that knee that Flip Saunders will get another look from doctors when the team returns from this four-game trip after tonight's game.
And don't forget, Anthony Bennett, Shabazz Muhammad and Robbie Hummel all remain out as well.
That means you'll see lots and lots of Zach LaVine, Gorgui Dieng, Justin Hamilton, among others. You might even see a lot of Lorenzo Brown as well against a Spurs team that had won six straight before Kyrie Irving scored 57 points to beat them in overtime on Thursday.
It also means LaVine, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Dieng and Hamilton are your starting five for tonight's game.
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