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.

Posts about Wolves coaches

Camp, Day 2: Bonzi's here, is Barea next?

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: December 11, 2011 - 1:49 AM

Day 2 of training camp has come and gone.

The big happenings:

* The Wolves are pursuing unrestricted free agent J.J. Barea.

What?

Another point guard?

Yes, a source confirms they're in the chase. NBA.com reported Saturday night that the Knicks and the Wolves are chasing him and Internet "reports" say Barea has agreed to take New York's 2-year, $5 million "mini mid-level" although there's no sourcing to any of it and I've got nobody confirming it's a done deal.

So, why would the Wolves want to add Barea to Ricky Rubio and Luke RIdnour?

Well, there's David Kahn and his fabulous point-guard collection...

Seriously, they're looking for a ball-handling playmaking guard, this just wouldn't be the shooting guard you would have thought they'd go after.

Instead, apparently, they must think Barea -- 5-11 and 27 years old  -- can play some with Rubio and perhaps Ridnour.

* Still looking for that shooting guard, the Wolves brought Bonzi Wells -- yes, Bonzi, remember him? -- to camp today.

He can't practice until FIBA clears him because he last played in Puerto Rico in 2010 Before that, he was in China.

He hasn't played in the NBA since 2008 and is now 35 and didn't play anywhere last season.

But he has played for Rick Adelman twice before -- in Sacramento and Houston -- and the Wolves are willing to take a look to see if he's in good enough to shape to help.

"I know what he can," Adelman said. "If he's in shape, he can be a factor because he's a very physical player and he's played with our stuff before. He's not a ball handler. He cuts. He's really strong around the basket. He's a handful on the boards and a handful when he posts up. He played very good for me. The case for Bonzi always is he shape and that's what we'll find out."

* The Wolves have until Monday 5 p.m. to put in a silent bid for amnestied Chauncey Billups.

He's be a near perfect fit for what the Wolves are searching -- great veteran leader, would help teach Rubio the NBA way, strong guard who can play some shooting guard even if he is another point guard --except: He doesn't want to be here, or anywhere else that isn't a contending team.

So...don't expect the Wolves to bother making a bid.

* Derrick Williams has signed his rookie contract and it's been submitted to the league. The Wolves, meanwhile, continue to negotiate with second-round pick Malcolm Lee on a contract. He has agreed to practice until that agreement is reached.

* Adelman mixed and matched players in practice groupings on Friday and Saturday, but he kept two players together both days: Rubio and Kevin Love.

By design?

"Not really," Adelman said. "I think they are a pretty good combination. You'll probably see that change some tomorrow. I'm just trying to get them all in to see who plays well together."

* If the Wolves don't find that shooting guard, they'll wait and hope Martell Webster can come back from that second back surgery in less than a year. He underwent this second microdiscectomy in late September and is aiming to be back early January.

"He's a real valuable player for us," Adelman said. "He defends. He's experienced. He can make shots. So we're hoping to get him back because he can make a good difference. He can play the 2 or the 3. But the biggest thing is he competes. He would certainly help us (with their shooting guard needs) because he's a veteran and from my understanding he was playing pretty good last year before he got hurt.

"I'm hopeful we can get him back. We're going to have to be careful with him in bringing him back so we don't have any setbacks."

* Tweeted this Friday, but forgot to put it in yesterday's blog:

Veteran center Brad Miller says he will see the doctor in the next week to 10 days and hopes to get clearance to return to the court from knee surgery by mid to late January.

Right now, he's just do cardio work on the treadmill or elliptical trainer.

* Adelman now has praised Rubio after each of camp's first two days.

"Ricky's been good the first two days," he said. "The thing I'm really impressed with, he's really a smart player. He just doesn't know what he's supposed to do. He knows what everybody else is supposed to do and where they're supposed to be. He's not afraid to talk about it. You can tell he's just a natural point guard."

Sounds like Ricky might want Adelman's job.

"There's a lot of times he can have it," Adelman said.

That's it for Day 2.

We'll see if Day 3 bring continued good luck. The Wolves have gotten through the first two days of this abbreviated preseason with everybody healthy, even if Kevin Love got a knee in the thigh Saturday.

But he's OK, Wolves fans.

He finished the practice, the only one of the day.

Adelman said his experience tells him players are fresher and recover better if they practice once a day in camp, even though the NBA will allow some two a days during this preseason.

That's all for Day 2.

Here's the story I wrote for Sunday's paper on the Wolves' defensive woes and what Adelman intends to do about them.

You can find it here.

 

 

Adelman after first practice: "I like their attitude"

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: December 10, 2011 - 1:51 AM
The first practice under Rick Adelman is history.
 
It very well doesn’t mean anything, but it was interesting to check out Adelman working with a unit that consisted of Ricky Rubio, Malcolm Lee, Derrick Williams, Anthony Randolph and Kevin Love while Michael Beasley, Wes Johnson, Darko!, Luke Ridnour and others worked on an adjacent court on Friday.
 
“That won’t be a regular starting team when we scrimmage,” Adelman said before the practice. “We’re going to mix guys in and out all the time and they’re going to have to understand that and then we’ll make decisions. And what we decide for the first game may not hold true.”
 
Here’s what Adelman had to say about this first practice:
 
“The scrimmage was really ragged, which is typical,” he said. “We kind of let it go to see how’d they react. They were in a hurry. The things we talked about today in our meeting: We’ve got to defend better, especially in our transition defense. It has been our breakdown and we’ve got to take care of the ball. We made poor decisions with the ball. It’s just something we have to get used to.
 
“It’s the first time we’ve seen ‘em play. I like their attitude. I like the way that they competed….I don’t think their conditioning is bad, but that’s maybe something we’ll have to scrimmage more.”
 
He also got his first look at Ricky Rubio Friday.
 
“I thought he did well,” Adelman said. “He can really pass the ball. I was able to see different things he can do. I liked the way he handles the ball, I like the way he defends, I think he has to be careful with his hands defensively.
 
 “We’re going to tweak things for people. The biggest thing for this team is the spacing. They’ve got to understand the spacing we need. They’ve got to understand the timing we need.”
 
Earlier in the day, Adelman said at the team’s traditional media day that he had hoped the team could add some veterans.
 
I asked him after practice about the chances of them doing that in these next two weeks.
 
“I hope so,” he said. “I think we’re looking all the time to see who’s out there, who’s available.”
Asked about his team’s needs, he said, “I think right now from what we’ve seen, our wings need to handle the ball better. They have to be able playmakers. All these guys have to learn to make the extra pass. Don’t force the issue. Make the extra pass, and that’s recognition. That’s just seeing what’s there and understanding, `That’s not there, go to the next option.’
“They’re not ready for that yet. They kind of look at very first option and they force the issue. You can’t do that. So if we don’t have anybody else, we’ve got to improve these people with their decision making and ball handling.”
 
So what are their options?
 
They’re looking for a ball-handling, playmaking shooting guard – although they wouldn’t turn away an athletic starting center like DeAndre Jordan, either – now that their pursuit of free-agent center Chuck Hayes has ended.
 
Sacramento agreed to terms with Hayes on Friday for a 4-year, $21.3 million deal after the Wolves had made it to the two finalists on him.
 
Now they will likely turn their search toward that shooting guard.
 
Jamal Crawford, Arron Afflalo, Nick Young, Jason Richardson, DeShawn Stevenson and Willie Green all are still on the market or they could pursue Houston’s Kevin Martin in a trade.
 
It’ll be interesting to see if the Wolves can get in on that resurrected Chris Paul trade.Martin was supposed to be one of the pieces the Rockets send to New Orleans in a three-way trade that also included the Lakers.
 
The NBA wants the franchise it owns to get younger player and more draft picks in the deal. The Wolves could throw some of their young pieces – Wes Johnson or Michael Beasley plus some combination of Nikola Pekovic, Wayne Ellington, Lazar Hayward, etc., -- into the deal to give the Hornets more young players and bring Martin back from New Orleans via Houston in what now is a three-way trade between the Lakers, Hornets and Rockets.
 
I know David Kahn has considered Martin overpaid, but maybe Rick Adelman will change his mind after Adelman coached Martin for more than a season.
 
Also about Friday: Rookie Derrick Williams' contract paperwork was being processed and not finalized, but he agreed in Friday's practice anyway.
 
Second-round pick Malcolm Lee also wasn't officially signed, but he, too, participated.
 
Both contracts should be completed shortly.
 
Friday was the first day Adelman talked specifically about his players and new team.
 
Here's some of what he had to say, which I edited down from his media-day appearance for Saturday's paper. You can find it here.
 
And here's the notebook that Kent Youngblood wrote, focusing on another back surgery that will keep Martell Webster out indefinitely.
 
The Wolves practice once on Saturday afternoon.
 
I'll check in with you after that.
 

And so it begins for the Wolves

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: December 9, 2011 - 2:57 PM

The Timberwolves are having their media day this afternoon before practice, and it's a parade of players to the podium here at Target Center.

Among the highlights:

Coach Rick Adelman said cleaning up the team starts at the defensive end, where it was "horrendous" last season.

Kevin Love said he was impressed with new teammate Ricky Rubio ... "he can pass the poop out of the ball" except he didn't say poop.

When Rubio got to the locker room, he texted a picture of his jersey to his friends back in Spain. He also said it was good for him to hang around with his European teammates, Darko Milicic and Niko Pekovic in case "some big American guy" comes along. He was also amazed at the catching ability of his teammates during their informal scrimmage on Thursday.

Michael Bealey said he would "love" to sign a contract extension with the Wolves, but said he isn't thinking or talking about it any more. He also said "I'm not here to talk about past issues" when asked about summer trouble, and when asked what he had to say to the fans: "Hi, fans."

And a newsy note: Martell Webster is out indefinitely. He had microdiscectomy surgery on Sept. 28.

 

Glen Taylor speaks out on labor deal, Adelman, Kahn, etc.

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: December 1, 2011 - 1:21 AM

The lockout is over. So, too, is the NBA’s gag order on executives and coaches.

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor -- influential in negotiations because of his position as Board of Governor’s chairman – spoke on Wednesday in his first comments in months and months during a conversation I had with him by phone from his office in Mankato.

Here’s the story I wrote for the Thursday paper and the web site on his thoughts about the new deal, how he thinks Wolves fans are curious enough and excited enough about this young team to come back even after two months’ missed and other things from the 149-day lockout.

As always, there was LOTS from our conversation that didn’t make the paper. So here’s a good bit of the leftovers:

* He never commented on the hiring of Rick Adelman two months ago, so now….

“We had the chance to interview six coaches with experience on this thing. I just think it ended up with Rick’s experience and track record that he came out on top of a group of other very good candidates. “I liked him personally. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like the other guys, I just think after interviewing them all, David and I, it was a fairly easy choice for us to pick Rick based on his experience.”

* I asked him if he had to sell Adelman on the job?

“No, not in that way,” he said. “At the very beginning when we first contacted him, he just said he needed time and he wanted to talk to his family and those things. We didn’t pressure him. We were just patient. When we finally came back to him, it wasn’t like we had to talk him into anything. He and I had never met before and had a dinner conversation or anything. The most we had ever said to each other was `Hi,’ before and it was an opportunity to get to know each other. “Now it was different with David. David knew him and he knew David very well, so they were able to just sort of pick up on that.”

* I asked him about that Yahoo!Sports column that said Taylor had to sell Adelman on the job and close the deal because Adelman wanted nothing to do with dealing with Kahn.

“I didn’t see that at all, that Rick wasn’t favorably impressed with David,” Taylor said. “I sat in a couple meetings with the three of us together. He was very supportive of David and David of him. I don’t know where that came from. I didn’t see it all. It didn’t appear to me that there was anything but respect for each other.” ·

* Kahn has just this season left on his three-year contract. I asked him has offered or is considering an extension for him.

“No, he hasn’t asked for it and we haven’t brought it up because, just because we have more important thing to do worrying about our play,” he said.

* He said he is hopeful the team can sign Kevin Love to a contract extension.

The Wolves can sign him to a four-year extension starting Dec. 9 unless they make him a maximum-salary Designated Player. Each team now can offer one player that designation and a five-year extension, but they can only have one such player on their roster and it’s not likely the Wolves will offer Love a max contract. In any other season, teams had until Oct. 31 to re-sign a fourth-year player still on his rookie contract or risk having him become a restricted free agent the next summer.

This year’s deadline apparently is one of the many details not yet worked out. We’ll see what David Kahn has to say about it Thursday morning when he addresses the media for the first time on player matters since the lockout began July 1.

* He said the team still could hold training camp in Mankato because Kahn likes the idea of taking the team – particularly one with two important new players and a new coach – away from the Twin Cities for camp. You’d think this shortened two-week preseason hurts a young team with new players and new coach more than most teams, but Taylor said the way he looks at it, the Wolves have one thing going for them.

“A team like us, we’ve got our guys signed up and we don’t really have much time to explore trades and these types of things. There are other teams that only have 5 guys signed and so they can’t really do anything until we get a contract signed with the union. They can’t really do anything until then, so those teams will be really compressed and have a lot of things to do on the 9th, 10th and 11th.”

 

Adelman's player personnel voice? His son R.J.

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: October 28, 2011 - 12:42 PM

A little something while we wait today to see whether the owners and players really can finally pull off a new labor deal...

I'm hearing Adelman's son R.J. is not going to be an assistant coach, but rather a player personnel guy who will bring a lot of the same statistical analysis -- the same kind of stuff featured in the new film Moneyball (but without Brad Pitt) --  to the process that the Rockets use under their GM, Daryl Morey.

So rejoice, you basketball geeks who clamored for the Wolves to hire Rockets VP of basketball ops Sam Hinkie from Morey's staff instead of David Kahn two-plus years ago!

I was told yesterday that the Wolves might not hire anyone to replace departed Tony Ronzone.

I guess now that's because they've already in essence hired him, even though none of those assistant coach hires or RJ's hire will be announced and official until it's clear this lockout is ending.

The Rockets in recent years have been able to pluck Aaron Brooks, Carl Landry and Chase Budinger from the depths of the draft and trade for Kevin Martin and Luis Scola using both traditional and analytical scouting.

They also, coincidentally, acquired the draft rights to European prospect Donatas Montiejunas from the Wolves with the 20th pick in last summer's draft.

That's when the Wolves started wheeling and dealing down with move after move to raise cash, at least $4 million -- funny the same amount they owed Kurt Rambis if they were going to fire him (which they did, of course) -- even if David Kahn swore it didn't have anything to do with the money. Rather, he said, it was because the talent-loaded Wolves didn't have room to add anymore young players to the roster.

If that was the case, then why not draft and keep Montiejunas and select European prospect Nikola Mirotic with the intent of keeping that player in Europe for a couple years and then have the option of signing him or trading him?

Anyway, for those of you were skeptical that Rick Adelman would ever take this job and wondered on the blog what role he'd have in player personnel decisions if he really did...well, here's your answer.

 

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