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.

Report: Wiggins now on negotiating table for Love trade

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves news Updated: July 17, 2014 - 3:23 PM

The News-Herald newspaper in Ohio this afternoon reported Cleveland is now willing to trade No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, to the Timberwolves in a deal for Kevin Love.

If the two sides are able to make a deal, it likely will include Wiggins, 2013 No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett and possibly a first-round pick, but the teams will have to figure out how to make the money work, considering Love makes $15-plus million and the Cavs are stretched to the cap limit after signing LeBron James and others.

That process could involve a third team in the trade to make the money work if the Cavs are not willing to include center Anderson Varejao, whose nearly $10 million salary would do wonders to make the deal work.

The Cavaliers own protected 2015 first-round picks from Miami and Memphis to offer, although it might take a pick to get a third team to participate if needed.

I heard rumblings before I left Las Vegas yesterday that Wiggins could be now be in play after multiple reports in the last week citing Cavs sources say they defiintely would not trade the No. 1 pick and all the promise that he holds.

What changed?

Well, James has returned this week after attending Sunday's World Cup final in Brazil and perhaps is making his voice heard.

I haven't got the impression today from checking around that trade discussions have yet advanced enough for the Wolves to know whether Wiggins indeed is obtainable, but it does sound like a breakthrough indeed is possible.

The other issue that needs to be determined: Will Love opt in for the fourth season of his contract or agree to sign an extension next summer. If he really meant it all last season when he said all he wants is a chance to win, he will.

Here's the News-Herald story.Stay tuned.

Stay tuned...

Team USA World Cup basketball training camp roster finalized

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wolves news Updated: July 14, 2014 - 11:21 AM

USA Basketball announced the final training camp roster for the FIFA World Cup, which will be hosted by Spain beginning in early August.

Kevin Love is, of course on the roster. Here are the others, alphabetical order:

Bradley Beal, G, Washington; DeMarcus Cousins, F, Sacramento; Stephen Curry, G, Golden State; Anthony Davis, F/C, New Orleans; DeMar DeRozan, G/F Toronto; Andre Drummond, F/C, Detroit; Kevin Durant, F, Oklahoma City; Kenneth Faried, F, Denver; Paul George, G/F, Indiana; Blake Griffin, F, Los Angeles Clippers; James Harden, G, Houston; Gordon Hayward, F, Utah; Kyrie Irving, G, Cleveland; Kyle Korver, G, Atlanta; Damian Lillard, G, Portland; Chandler Parsons, F, Dallas Mavericks; Derrick Rose, G, Chicago; Klay Thompson, G/F, Golden State.

Among some notable names missing on this list? Washington guard John Wall and San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard.

LeBron's going home to Cleveland, is Kevin Love far behind him?

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves news Updated: July 11, 2014 - 12:34 PM

And just like that...LeBron James announces he indeed is going home to Cleveland, four years after he left in a depature that turned so bitter.

Here's the essay in which James explains himself, and why he chose now as the time to do what he always thought he would do, go home.

Of course, there are big Timberwolves implications here, if the Cavs indeed do now make a play to put Kevin Love alongside LeBron and Kyrie Irving.

Read the essay and you'll notice this: LeBron talks about how he wants to mentor and raise Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters right. Glaringly, he never made mention of consecutive No. 1 picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett.

The price will be Wiggins -- and other pieces inclulding draft pick(s) and perhaps Bennett -- and right now it's not clear just how eager the Cavaliers will be to do so.

Of course, Love would have to be willing to sign long term to stay in Cleveland. For all the speculation that Love wants to play in Los Angeles or a big market, the only thing he has said publicly is that he wants to win.

Now's the time to back up his word.

You'd think swapping Wiggins for Love in a bigger package would be a no-brainer for the Cavs, but...

It'll be interesting to see if Wiggins plays for the Cavaliers team this afternoon when it starts its Las Vegas Summer League play.

And it'll be interesting to see if:

* The Cavs try to get greedy and try to make a deal with the Wolves without including Wiggins.

* And if Flip Saunders gets greedy and tries to use the Cavs and Wiggins to leverage Chicago -- if they lose out on Carmelo Anthony -- into giving him the deal he has sought from them: Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and the rights to Nikola Mirotic.

You also say that about Golden State, but the Bulls now have more incentive to keep Love away from LeBron and the Cavs.

Stay tuned, it's going to be a wild ride...

Camp over, Wolves summer team ready for Las Vegas

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wolves guards, Wolves players, Wolves practice news Updated: July 10, 2014 - 5:24 PM

Alexey Shved says he doesn’t matter where he plays, he just wants to play.

Shved is the Russian player who came to the Wolves before the 2012-13 season and spent much of that season showing he might have a future as a shooting guard. Getting an opportunity in large part because of a long injury list, Shved played in 77 games, started 16 and scored 8.6 points and 3.7 assists.

Last season was a different story. The 6-6 Shved saw his numbers and productivity drop.

And now? President of basketball operations and head coach Flip Saunders wants Shved to work at playing some point guard.

And that’s what Shved has been doing since the team’s summer league roster began prepping for league play, which begins this weekend in Las Vegas.

“It doesn’t matter – point guard, shooting guard,” Shved said. “I just want to play.’’

Shved has some abilities that would seem to make the move plausible. Saunders likes Shved’s height, which allows him to look over defenses much like a big quarterback can see things over the middle. He likes that Shved has the ability stay in front of an opponent on defense.

Saunders made his intentions known on draft night, when he said being able to add point guard duties was a key for Shved to extend his NBA career.

This week Saunders has softened his stance, saying he’d like Shved to be able to contribute to work at both positions, with the key being making sure Shved gets his confidence back.

“He’s learning,” Saunders said after Wednesday’s scrimmage. “I think the biggest thing is he has to become more vocal. That’s an adjustment when you’re a European player. He’s picking things up, trying to learn both (point guard and shooting guard). He’s been pretty solid. ‘’

Shved said he’s looking forward to playing in Vegas. About to enter his third season, his English has improved and he said he’s ready to be vocal player Saunders wants.

Here are some other nuggets from Thursday’s workout:

--On Wednesday, after scoring 21 points in the open-to-the-public scrimmage, center Kyrylo Fesenko said one of the reasons he accepted an offer to play summer ball with the Wolves was his friendship with Shved. The two know each other from playing in Europe. Thursday Shved made a politically-tinged joke. “He’s Ukrainian, I’m Russian,” he said, referencing the current political climate between those two countries. “We stay together. As players, we are together.”

--Saunders said Shabazz Muhammad has been the hardest worker this week, said the second-year player knows he has to improve on defense and is willing to do what it takes to get there. He also said this: “Today was probably as good a practice as he’s had since he’s been a Timberwolves player,” Saunders said.

--Saunders said second-round draft pick Glen Robinson III won’t be signed to a contract before the team plays in Vegas. The Wolves want to maintain some roster flexibility as they navigate free agency.

--Robinson, meanwhile, admitted the players have been as interested in the anticipation surrounding LeBron James’ impending free agency decision. “We have been fans a little bit,” he said. “We’re watching ESPN, wondering, just like everybody else.”

--Saunders said Chase Budinger, who will travel to Vegas to practice with the team, won’t play in any summer league games. But he said Budinger, trying to come back from two injury-marred seasons, is coming along well. “He’s gotten a lot more confidence in his legs,” Saunders said. “He’s able to shoot the ball better, get the ball above the rim, dunking, doing a lot of things he didn’t do a lot of [last year].” 

Fans flock to Target Center for free scrimmage

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wolves players Updated: July 9, 2014 - 10:25 PM

It was early July, midweek. And yet the fans came to Target Center.

About 5,000 fans, and perhaps more, filed into the arena to watch the  Wolves summer league team put on a free scrimmage. For many, it was a first look at top draft pick Zach LaVine, a chance to see second-round pick Glen Robinson III, to see how Shabazz Muhammad is coming along and to see if there are any other hidden gems in the group that will go to Las Vegas this weekend.

Impressions?

--LaVine dunked four times while scoring 16 points for the white team in the scrimmage, which was ended with the score tied 71-71. He looked good handling the ball, looked very fast off the dribble and made the fans very happy, both with his dunks during the scrimmage and those he displayed in post-scrimmage dunking display.

“Today I wanted to show a little bit of everything – passing, scoring, athleticism, excitement,” LaVine said. “And being able to defend a bit as well. So it was a good showing for all of us.”

Wolves president of basketball operations and head coach Flip Saunders again commented on LaVine’s passing ability, stressing that the 19-year-old is more skilled than many think. Especially at passing the ball.

“He’s almost 6-7,” Saunders said. “So when you have a guy who can handle the ball at 6-7, he can see over the defense. It’s like having a big quarterback. I think he has a great feel for the game.”

LaVine also relished the chance to give the fans a good first look after the misunderstanding on draft night, when he apparently uttered a profanity after the Wolves took him.

“It was good, made up for it a little bit,” he said. “Definitely. People misinterpreted things, but that’s OK.”

--Muhammad isn’t 100 percent in shape yet, he said. More like 85, but getting better every day. But he played very hard tonight, leading the black team with 19 points. He said he has lost about 10 pounds so far this summer and hopes to drop seven more.
“I’ll be way lighter, and I think I’ll jump higher,” he said. “I’ve been working with a trainer on my spin moves and my jumping. I think it’s already really improved. .. I’m starting to stack up and raise my level of play.’’

--When asked if there has been a pleasant surprise to come out of this pre-summer League camp, Saunders mentioned center Kyrylo Fesenko, a 7-1, 280-pounder from Ukraine. Tonight he scored a scrimmage-high 21 points. And while part of that was due to Gorgui Dieng not playing because he wasn’t feeling well, Fesenko looked good.

“I think I did a tremendous job,” he said, frankly.

Fesenko, 27, has bounced around a bit, playing in 135 NBA games since being drafted in 2007 by Utah.

Fesenko was in Cleveland last January, waiting for a work visa to come through so he could play for Canton in the NBA Development league. Saunders, an Ohio native, was also in Cleveland and he put Fesenko through an impromptu workout at a local health club.

“He killed me, probably, in 40 minutes,” he said. “That’s when I realized condition is the must-have thing.”

Fesenko said he had a few offers to play for teams in the summer league, but he chose the Wolves because of his relationship with Saunders. “I’ve always liked Minneapolis as a city,” he said. “I know Alex (Shved). And, obviously, working out for Flip I felt this is a good fit for me.” 

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