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.
Timberwolves star Kevin Love said today he hasn’t told the team he will opt out of his contract in summer 2015 and sign elsewhere, as a series of Internet Tweets reported after Wednesday’s 104-91 home victory over Indiana.
Love told reporters this after practice today: “We laughed about it today. It’s a media-driven story. For the past couple years, I can’t believe some of the stuff that has come out. We went out and played hard last night, great performance as a team. To see some stuff like that is just kind of disheartening.”
Love spoke with the media this afternoon, just before the NBA’s trade deadline came and went without the Wolves making a deal.
That means Love is still a Timberwolf and one who’s about to play more center now that backup center Ronny Turiaf is hurting, too. He sustained a bone bruise on his right knee in the fourth quarter and is out indefinitely, the team said today.
Longtime NBA columnist and commentator Peter Vecsey in a series of unsourced tweets Wednesday night said Love told Wolves boss Flip Saunders before the All-Star break that he has decided to play elsewhere when he can escape a four-year contract a year early in July 2015. He said expect Love to be traded by Thursday’s trade deadline or in this upcoming off-season and said Love wants to play only for teams with a winning culture and mentioned Boston and Chicago as possible teams that would have assets to trade for Love and that would fit his criteria.
Saunders called the report “false” in a tweet that responded to Vecsey’s tweets just after the Wolves beat the Pacers.
Love said he and Flip laughed about the report, but Love did confirm part of Saunders' tweet sent out Wednesday night. Saunders said the last conversation he had with Love was about Love telling him how bad his sport coat was.
"I did say that," Love said. "Anyone who saw him, it was pretty bad."
Love told GQ magazine in an interview released this week that he’s having “fun” in Minnesota and that the Wolves are better positioned to win than the Los Angeles Lakers, the team so many assume he will sign with in 2015.
“Basically all I said is our foundation and our team is better than a lot of teams that you guys and Peter Vecsey and whoever the hell else says I’m going to,” Love said.
Speculation about his future will continue until Love either opts out in July 2015 and re-signs with the Wolves or another team or until the team trades before that.
“It comes with the territory,” Love said. “I just don’t want to talk about it. It takes away from the team. It takes away from what Coach is trying to do. At the end of the day, I just want to play basketball. I don’t want to think about whether I’m going to be here or somewhere else in 2015, 2016 or whatever it is.”
When Wolves coach Rick Adelman was asked Love requesting a trade, he said, “Really? C’mon? You know, he got 42 points last night and we won the game. Some of this stuff comes out of nowhere. That’s so far in the future, I don’t even worry about that. I just worry about the fact, it didn’t look like he was going anywhere last night and that’s the direction I wanted. In this world today: `What’s LeBron going to do next year? What’s Carmelo going to do next year?’ Who cares? It’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. In Kevin’s situation, he’s here with us. I’m glad as the coach that he is with us. I’ve never heard anything about that. He certainly hasn’t said anything to me, so I don’t dwell on that.”
The Wolves leave Friday for a five-game Western trip in which Adelman will have to cobble together a lineup at center now that Turiaf is out and Nikola Pekovic still hasn’t yet returned.
Pekovic participated in drills and other court work during Thursday’s semi-practice and is expected to do more on Friday, Adelman said. But Adelman said Pekovic’s return remains unknown and indicated it isn’t imminent.
“I welcome it as long as I’m not taking any more shots to anywhere on my body,” Love said about playing more at center. “It’s another thing that comes with the territory. We pray that guys come back as soon as possible.”
Flip Saunders met with the media this afternoon to explain the trade that sent former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams to Sacramento for veteran defensive specialist Luc Mbah a Moute.
Here's the video our shooter David Brewster did from the gathering, including a little standup bit that Jim Souhan and I did. Turned out kind of funny the way David edited it.
Here's a bunch of this and that, most of it taken from my Twitter feed today:
* Mbah a Moute will wear No. 12 for the Wolves after wearing No. 33 in Sacramento.
* Flip said there's a chance LMM plays Wednesday night vs. Denver. "We're hoping," he said. The new guy is due in town tonight and will undergo a physical exam in the morning.
* LMM didn't have a physical done before the league was finalized. Flip said his team had done extensive background on LMM's knees and are confident there's no issue after he underwent surgery in May 2012 to resolve tendinitis.
* Flip said he and Rick Adelman concluded Derrick can't play small forward in Adelman's system -- didn't rule out that he couldn't play it in other coach's system, including Sacramento's. And he asked if Williams's value would be any greater in a month or at the February trade deadline if he wasn't playing much, which he wasn't of course.
* Flip said contrary to popular opinion on Twitter, Adelman actually likes Derrick and think he'll be a good player in this league. Said he doesn't hate him. Implied, though, that Derrick never won Adelman's trust and team needs to find bench guys Adelman can trust to play more to relieve stress on the starters.
* Interesting that when talking about adding one of the league's best individual defenders, Flip singled out Dante Cunningham as the team's best defender pre-LMM.
* I asked Flip if he would have preferred to deal Derrick to add bench scoring and he said sometimes your scoring from your defense.
* Asked Flip about D League for Shabazz or Robbie Hummel but he said notion that they'll sit on bench now isn't necessarily true. Said they want to expand bench play beyond eight guys to help out starters.
And one more thing:
My compatriot Jason Jones of the Sac Bee put up this posting on the trade this afternoon. It's a good read from the other side of the deal.
That's all for now. Carry on...
The Wolves have reached agreement with the Kings to trade former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams to Sacramento for defensive-minded swingman Luc Mbah a Moute, a league source confirms.
The deal could be finalized as soon as Tuesday morning, pending physicals with both players.
Mbah a Moute, a former second-round pick, will be reunited with former UCLA teammate Kevin Love.
The trade sends away a once highly regarded draft choice who clearly didn't fit with coach Rick Adelman.
WIlliams lost weight so he could better play small forward, but saw the backup role there to Corey Brewer go to Robbie Hummel and Williams will play little with Kevin Love and Dante Cunningham at his natural power forward spot.
ESPN's Marc Stein first reported the teams were in advanced discussions.
This tough November schedule the Timberwolves find themselves in gets even tougher starting tonight.
In the next six games, the Wolves are playing opponents that are winning at a 75-percent clip.
That includes the 12-1 Pacers tonight as well as 12-1 San Antonio, 10-3 Miami, 9-3 Oklahoma City and 9-5 Dallas.
The cupcake of the bunch is 6-6 Denver at home on Wednesday,
"I know, we're very aware of that," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said, "and most of the team are on the road. That's just the way the schedule breaks and of course one of the home games is not at home. Every is going the other direction. It's a challenge and opportunity both."
The home game that's not a home game to which he refers is the Dec. 4 game against the Spurs in Mexico City.
A couple other things:
* Expect another physical -- chippy, if you will -- game between these teams. The last couple years have produced such games more often than not.
"I think there have been a few chippy games," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "They play physical. We play physical. So anytime you have two teams that play that style of play, it's going to be a little edge, a little chippy. We welcome that."
* Former Strib columnist Dan Barreiro went on his KFAN radio show this afternoon and said Derrick Williams is as good as gone. He didn't have any more specifics, but he does have the Batphone line directly into Flip Saunders' office and home.
It's no secret Adelman doesn't see a place for him on this team and Saunders has been searching for a deal.
I was told this afternoon nothing is imminent.
One team that is looking to make a deal and wants to get younger is Sacramento, which would offer a veteran such as swingman defender Luc Mbah a Moute or Adelman favorite Chuck Hayes. Maybe the deal would even include reserve shooter Jimmer Frederette.
I haven't heard the Kings or any names specifically, it's just an educated guess on who wants to deal now and what's out there that Williams might bring in return.
Rick Adelman continues to experiment at that small forward, and will start rookie Robbie Hummel at that spot tonight in Philadelphia.
Hummel is the third different starter in five games there, after Corey Brewer started the first four games and Derrick Williams the other.
Adelman also said he'll likely, depending on how the game goes, dial back minutes for the starters tonight and let other guys player and then play the starters longer in Thursday's preseason finale at Detroit.
Adelman said again tonight that the answer to that small-forward position could still be on another team or a free agent waiting to sign with somebody.
The Sixers have two wings playing tonight who could be available, Thaddeus Young or Evan Turner, for the right deal.
"You always have to look around this time of year and see what's going on in the league," Adelman said. "That's Flip's and the scouts' job. I have to deal with who is here."
The Sixers have two Minnesotans on their roster: The Sixers are trying to find a way to do what Houston couldn't last year, treat and handle Royce White's anxiety disorder so he can stay on the floor.
Former Gopher Rodney Williams has appeared in just one preseason game, likely will play tonight but almost certainly won't make Philly's final roster.
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