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 this afternoon officially announced, as expected, the hiring of Sam Mitchell as an assistant coach.
That follows last week's hiring of Sidney Lowe, who will be assisting Flip Saunders for the fourth time (two stints together before with the Wolves and once in Detroit).
Both are former Wolves players and former NBA head coaches. Lowe coached North Carolina State as well.
Mitchell won the 2007 NBA Coach of the Year award with Toronto and last coached in the league as a New Jersey assistant in 2011.
"It helps a great deal, having been in that seat before," Lowe said last week, referring to assistant coaches who have head-coaching experience. "You know what he's going through, what he's dealing with. We know what he needs, not just from the basketball side, working with players, developing players. We're there to take care of a lot of stuff that he doesn't need to worry about. That's our job, to assist."
Saunders' son Ryan is expected to join the coaching staff as well.
That would seem to leave one assistant's job left to fill, depending on what the team does with David Adelman, who was an assistant coach last season and has one season left on his contract.
You can tell Ronny Turiaf has been around the NBA and the world by two things he has done recently:
First, he made a veteran move and slipped out of Flip Saunders' introductory news conference as coach last week and headed back to his summer internship while reporters were busy talking to rookie Gorgui Dieng instead.
And now on Sunday -- or Monday, actually -- he was wise enough to head west rather than east with the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program developed to spread the game with youth camps worldwide and was able to watch the San Antonio Spurs win their fifth NBA title while having breakfast in Taipei. If he had gone to Europe or Africa on his latest trip with Basketball Without Borders, he would have watched the game in the middle of the night.
Either way, he actually only sort of watched it because buddies Boris Diaw and Tony Parker were playing with so much at stake.
"I tried not to watch too much," Turiaf said.
Too nervous or didn't want to jinx them?
"A little bit of both," Turiaf said.
Turiaf talked by phone early Monday morning Twin Cities time as he headed in a bus just after lunchtime in Taiwan and at that point hadn't tried to text or make contact with congratulations for his friends.
"I'm trying not to have an exorbitant cell-phone bill while I'm over here," Turiaf said.
He is there with Wolves player development coach Bobby Jackson, Toronto's John Salmons and Charlotte's Cody Zeller spreading the game, just as Turiaf had done with previuos Basketball Without Borders excursions to India, Senegal and France.
"This is my fourth edition, something I pride myself on," Turiaf said. "I like just traveling, different countries. It changes my perspective on everything that surrounds me."
This time, he went to Taiwan with his mother.
He shared what he called a "confession" while on the phone.
"My dream is to go to every country in the world," he said. "To be able to come here is something I've always wanted. To get to know the culture, that's something I've very proud of. It's similar to other Asian countries, but with its own twist."
He heads back to the United States on Tuesday and will spend time in Los Angeles before he returns to Minneapolis in mid July to continue a summer-internship with the Olson ad agency in which he is learning public-relations, advertising, video-production and social-media skills he can apply to use with his Heart-to-Heart Foundation.
He's doing that internship in two-week stints, and getting paid $13 an hour.
By the time he gets back to Minnesota, he knows his team could look very different, should Kevin Love be traded by then.
Turiaf was with Flip Saunders briefly in Washington and says Saunders was one of the reasons he decided to sign with the Wolves last summer.
"I know as an organization that Flip will try to make every single step necessary," Turiaf said. "At the end of the day, everybody has to be happy. That's what all parties are doing...Everybody is entitled to their own explanation of things. You never know what people truly feel in their heart. I know Kevin is a winner. He wants to win basketball games. He has proven that because he goes out every single night to win...It's an unusual situation."
Former Gophers guard Justin Cobbs returned to Minnesota for Saturday's pre-draft workout at Target Center, four years after he transferred after one season spent in the Big Ten.
Cobbs played little during his freshman season for Tubby Smith, then transferred back home to California and played the next three seasons at Cal.
Now he's a 6-3, 195-poind point guard who called himself Saturday all grown up.
He said he'd bring defense and leadership if the Wolves decided to use one of their three second-round picks on him.
"I'm a senior so I'm a leader," he said. "I've been in tough situations before. I've been yelled at before. I've been all around the block, so I've experienced everything. I think I'm ready to take constructive criticism and take it in a positive manner."
He arrived Friday after working out for the Wizards in Washington and is headed back to Las Vegas, his pre-draft base, this afternoon for a few days' rest before hitting the road for more workouts in advance of the June 26 draft.
"It's great to be back," Cobbs said. "A lot of memories here. Just seeing different things, seeing downtown again, seeing Target Center. It's good to be back."
When asked for a NBA comparison, Cobbs said he's some combination of Indiana's George Hill and New Orleans' Jrue Holiday.
Cobbs, 23, was part of a six-man workout Saturday morning that included Michigan State stretch power-forward Adreian Payne and UCLA's Kyle Anderson, a 6-9 player who can play point guard or point forward.
Payne is the first real candidate for the 13th overall pick whom the Wolves have brought to town. Expect them to consider guys like Michigan guard Nic Stauskas, Creighton's Doug McDermott and Kentucky's James Young if any or all of them are still there on draft night.
"I think what a lot of people are looking for and what I'm working on is showing I can hit the three," Payne said. "I think I showed it today."
Asked if he's a little like Kevin Love -- the guy he could replace -- in that way, Payne said, "I really don't watch a lot of basketball, but he is a great player. I'm just trying to get better."
When asked to compare himself to a current NBA player, Payne suggested Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka because Ibaka can stretch defenses with his shooting, blocks shots and defend inside.
That's a pretty good guy to pick.
I think the Wolves would take that.
I hear Sidney Lowe is in town, a visit that's a prelude to him joining Flip Saunders' staff as an assistant coach.
It's not a done deal yet, but is expected to be sometime soon.
Lowe was an assistant under Flip with the Wolves and Detroit, too. The former North Carolina State worked as an assistant to former Wolves teammate Ty Corbin at Utah this last season.
Also expect Flip's son Ryan to join the staff, but he's under contract with Washington until month's end.
Sam Mitchell is a possibility as well. Last I heard he was considering his options and deciding whether he wants to get back in coaching and continue with his radio/TV commentating gig in both the U.S. and Canada.
The Wolves have pursued European coach Dave Blatt as an assistant, but they've got stiff competition, particularly if Cleveland decides they want him as their head coach. Golden State also wants to add him as top assistant to Steve Kerr.
Depending on what else happens, former Golden State and Sacramento coach Eric Musselman -- whom Saunders once baby sat -- is a possibility as well. He wants to get back into NBA coaching and is weighing a couple college options as well, I'm told, after working for Arizona State last season.
Another possible candidate if Detroit guard Chauncey Billups, if he decides to retire and doesn't pursue a front-office job somewhere. He played for Saunders with the Wolves and the Pistons.
NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper interviewed Ricky Rubio stay during his appearance at the annual Eurocamp in Italy about his future and Kevin Love's future in Minnesota.
Here's the story with a link to separate video done with him.
While in Treviso, Rubio also did a video interview with Basketball Insiders' Steve Kyler in which he was asked about the Wolves' naming Flip Saunders as coach.
It sounded like less than a resounding endorsement to me, but check it out here and decide for yourself.
Here are the highlights of what Rubio told NBA.com:
* He said he wants Love to stay in Minnesota and still wants to play in Minnesota even if Love doesn't, but made it clear he doesn't want to step backward and go through the process of rebuilding again.
"I like Minnesota," he said. "But I want to win, too. Of course when a big guy like him leaves, you're thinking about what's going to be happening with the team. Are we going to lose a lot? Before I came to Minnesota, the season before they won like 17 games. I was a little scared when I went there. I'm coming from Europe, where I was playing in Barcelona. I think we lost six game or seven games in two season and every loss was a disaster. I don't want to go through a process like every win is something special."
* He's flying to Los Angeles on Monday for workouts, including work with a new shooting coach. But he made it clear the trip doesn't mean he'll play for the Lakers, a nod to Love's visit to Boston a week ago.
* He said he'll call and talk to Love soon after he arrives back in the United States. "He’s my teammate and I want to know how he feels and if he wants to stay or whatever,” Rubio told NBA.com. “But it’s something that I think we had a good relationship and we can talk as friends. Of course I want him to stay.”
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