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 finished their first training-camp practice in Mankato, grabbed a bunch of Chipotle burritos and bowls ordered for them and then bused back to Minneapolis this afternoon.
Rick Adelman declared the four days a success, even if his team's passing offense is ahead of the defense.
"I think you'll see a lot of deficiencies when we play somebody else, but that's fine," he said. "That's what exhibition season is for."
And that preseason begins Wednesday against Indiana in Fargo, N.D.
A couple quick things here before I, too, head home from Mankato:
* Brandon Roy declared himself happy and healthy, having survived four long practices in four days quite well, thank you.
"The body's tired, but the knees feel good," he said.
* The Wolves came through these four days fairly healthy. A few players sat out parts of some practices because of minor things. Malcolm Lee, for example, sat out the end of today's practice just like he did Thursday's because of groin tightness.
* Adelman mentioned Alexey Shved's shooting and the way Derrick Williams ran the floor when he was asked who stood out in camp.
* Adelman also said it's too early to really tell about the players with non-guaranteed contract in camp, but then he mentioned that former LSU center Chris Johnson, a 6-11 shot blocker, as a guy with a unique set of skills.
* This is kinda interesting: When I asked Adelman what kind of shape his three Olympians are in after a long summer, he basically said Kirilenko and Shved are fine but said Love is going to have to play himself back in the shape he was in last season.
That's all from Mankato for this year.
The Wolves will practice Saturday at Target Center.
I'll blog at you then.
The Wolves will hold their last of four training-camp practices in Mankato this morning and then head home to Minneapolis to prepare for Wednesday's preseason opener against Indiana in Fargo.
The Wolves practiced a little more than three hours on Thursday -- they opened camp with a four-hour session on Tuesday -- and afterward coach Rick Adelman said the team was ahead of schedule installing its offensive and defensive schemes.
"I really wasn't sure how much we were going to do," he said. "Watching these guys scrimmage, we're running a lot of stuff out of corner set because they seem to pick up very quickly. They've got a real good feel for it. We're a pretty good offensive team I think, the way guys read things and pick things up. It's hard to get an idea how you're doing defensively. The way we're playing, the ball is moving and you can't really zero in how you're doing defensively.
"That's always the problem I had in Sacramento because we were so good offensively. Once we got in games, we needed to figure it out (defensively)."
A couple of things from Thursday's practice:
* Malcolm Lee watched the end of it on the stationary bike because of tightness in his groin, but otherwise the Wolves seemed to come through their third camp practice still pretty darn healthy.
Greg Stiemsma has been able to participate in all 5-on-5 scrimmages, somewhat "surprisingly" he said and declared his feet are feeling "really good."
Brandon Roy seemed to scrimmage normally on Thursday as well. On Wednesday, he sat down for the day after participating in the scrimmage's opening minutes.
* Adelman praised Russian rookie Alexey Shved's shooting, saying "Alexey was really good today. He shot the heck out of the ball. He gives us another guy who can shoot it with range. There's just pieces we're finding out about and we have to find out how we're going to use these guys."
* Adelman also said that Kevin Love at power forward and Nikola Pekovic are the two starting lineup givens, but that he likely will experiment with combinations throughout the preseason schedule. Given that they are paying Andrei Kirilenko $10 million a season, it's a pretty good bet he gets written in with ink rather than pencil at the small-forward spot eventually.
The Wolves likely will work out Saturday at Target Center and take Sunday off after going hard for five consecutive days.
Rick Adelman gave the Wolves a break on Wednesday after working them for nearly four hours in Tuesday's opening training-camp practice:
They only practiced for three hours.
Brandon Roy reported that he felt as good on Wednesday as he did Tuesday, even though he only participated in the first part of the practice-ending scrimmage because Adelman doesn't want to push him to the limit with long practices coming up in Mankato Thursday and Friday.
"I feel good," Roy said. "I won't say, `surprisingly' because I've been working pretty hard this summer. I was confident today would go good. My energy level, I felt almost better than yesterday. That's a good sign.
"I did everything. I start the scrimmages but Coach says, `When you come out, you're done.' So after the first five, six minutes, I subbed out because mainly right now we are going three hours on back-to-back days. He just wants to be smart. During the season, I'll go the full hour, hour and a half. He wants to do hold back so I don't wear down so much right now."
Chase Budinger was back participating fully in Wednesday's scrimmage after he sat most of Tuesday's scrimmage because of a hamstring injury that flared up last week.
Dante Cunningham was the one who sat this time after he tweaked an ankle.
Adelman reported that Derrick Williams followed Tuesday's impressive practice with another good day on Wednesday.
"He's pretty spry today," Adelman said.
The topic of conversation at practice Wednesday was the NBA's decision to level hefty fines to players they deemed via a video review from the league offices "flop" in regular-season games and the NBA Players Association decision to fight that decision.
It was a topic of conversation mainly because us media types kept asking about it, but Roy said it'll be the talk of the locker room as well.
For those asking, btw, all training-camp practices in Mankato are closed to the public and there will be no preseason game or public scrimmage held there. The Wolves will have some kind of open-house event when they return to Minneapolis.
I'll blog at you Thursday from here in Mankato.
The Wolves opened training camp with a nearly four-hour practice in Mankato on Tuesday, after which former All Star guard Brandon Roy declared himself feeling "pretty good."
Coach Rick Adelman watched Roy complete the workout, including competing in a 5-on-5 workout when Adelman wanted him to shut down for the day, and went one step further.
"Brandon looked great," Adelman said. "He just knows how to play, even defensively. He has been through it all."
Roy said he expects to participate fully in Wednesday's second day of camp, but Adelman didn't sound quite so sure about that.
"We're going to have to be cautious with him," Adelman said. "Like tomorrow, it will be interesting to see all these guys who have been hurt, how they respond tomorrow. After the first day, they're going to be a little sore. But Brandon, he can flat-out score. He's a smart player. We just have to monitor him and make sure we are cautious with him and not push him too much."
Roy played on even when his coach didn't really want him to do so on Tuesday.
"Coach didn't really want me to play that last segment, but I wnated to at least get after it a little bit while my body was tired, just to see," Roy said. "And it felt good. Coach was like, `Back off, don't try to be a hero.' But as a player you just want to feel comfortable out there and I thought I was able to start feeling that way to the end.
"There's a bunch of different bridges that I'm crossing and this is another one.Getting out there today, I just felt really good."
He looked pretty good in the little bit us media types got to see at the end of a session that went nearly an hour longer than Adelman had scheduled. Roy doesn't look like the same explosive player he once was, but he can still create space for him and score, at least he did so in Tuesday's scrimmage.
Also on Tuesday:
* Chase Budinger didn't scrimmage and instead sat with injured Ricky Rubio and watched because of a sore hamstring that has been bothering him.
* While Budinger sat, backup center Greg Steimsma played through all of practice, even though David Kahn on Monday said he'd be limited in scrimmages early on in preseason as a precaution to protect his feet.
* Everybody else participated. One impression: Looks like Kevin Love took some time off after the Olympics. He mentioned last week how he'll have to play his way back into shape in this training camp and Tuesday's scrimmage looked like he's right.
* Expect Adelman to rely on Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea at point guard until Rubio returns, but you can expect Roy to have the ball in his hands a good bit when he's on the floor as well.
* Malcolm Lee looks like he's playing at full speed after his knee problems flared up and he didn't play in Las Vegas Summer League in July.
* Alexey Shved has great size for a combo guard and early returns on Tuesday suggest that yes, indeed, he can shoot it.
Before I go today, I'll leave you with a couple of videos:
* The first is some post-practice interviews with Adelman and players. You can find that here.
* And here is my initial foray into "CineSport" interviews with a conversation with anchor Brian Clark recorded after Tuesday's practice from Mankato. You'll find that here.
I'll blog at you on Wednesday from Mankato.
The Timberwolves have added free agents Mike Harris, Chris Johnson, Phil Jones, Seth Tarver, Jermaine Taylor and previously signed Will Conroy to their training-camp roster so they have enough bodies for 3 1/2-hour practices daily.
They also on Friday finally, formally introduced Andrei Kirilenko at a Target Center news conference.
He is the last of the contracted Timberwolves to arrive and would have been here for an introduction right after the London Olympics if Vladimir Putin had called him and the other Russian medalists to the Kremlin for a ceremony.
As Kirilenko playfully said by phone from Moscow a few weeks ago, you don't say no when Putin calls.
Here's a link to video from Kirilenko talking about his new team and home after today's news conference.
One other thing of interest today:
* The Jazz today announced that veteran guard Raja Ball won't be with them in training camp, a decision that all but ends his career in Utah.
The 36-year-old defensive specialist clashed with Utah coach Ty Corbin and the two sides have discussed a buyout of the $3.5 million left on the final year of his contract with no agreement yet reached.
Why do I bring this up?
David Kahn has been interested in Bell before and the Wolves have been considering bringing one more wing player into camp that begins Tuesday in Mankato.
Plus, they probably consider themselves still in need of defenders and veterans.
As for the six players they've added to the camp roster...
The Wolves have signed Conroy, a 6-2 point guard who has played part of two NBA seasons with Houston, Memphis and the Clippers, to a minimally, paritally guaranteed contract. He played with Brandon Roy at Washington and is one of Roy's best friends.
Harris is a 6-6 forward who played at Rice and was on the Wolves' Vegas team last summer. He has played 34 career NBA games with Washington and Houston.
It looks like Johnson is their compromise to presumably not signing Hassan Whiteside.
Johnson is a 6-11 center who gives the team a shot-blocking center if Greg Stiemsma's foot problems flare up in camp. He played parts of two NBA seasons with Boston, Portland and New Orleans and played his college ball at LSU. He also was the 2011 D League Defensive Player of the Year.
Jones is a 6-10 forward/center who played overseas two years after playing his college ball at UNC-Charlotte.
Tarver is a 6-5 guard who has played the last two seasons with Idaho in the D League and Taylor is a 6-4 guard who has played part of two seasons with Houston and Sacramento. He started four games for Rick Adelman with the Rockets in 2009-10.
If anybody of that group makes the final roster, it'll probably be either Johnson or Taylor, although each probably is a long shot.
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