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.
Anthony Tolliver has been cleared to play tonight against Cleveland and No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving after taking that nasty spill the other night against Memphis.
J.J. Barea, however, will miss his third consecutive game because of that hamstring he injured at Milwaukee in the season's second game.
Tolliver got undercut while reaching high for a ball and came somersaulting down, landing hard on his wrist as he tried to break his fall and then thumping down flat on his lower back and "upper butt" area on Wednesday night
He said he awoke Thursday morning feeling "not good, not all good at all."
"When I went to bed, I thought I was going to feel worse than I did when I woke up," he said. "But I did feel better than the night before. Every day the last two days has felt better and better. Hopefully it's something that doesn't stick around too long."
Rick Adelman has relied upon Tolliver in fourth quarters, asking him to defend LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki, among others.
I asked him at this morning's shootaround if the fall looked better or worse than it felt when he watched it again on replay.
"When it actually happened, I thought i was going to die so it was probably a little bit better than I orginally thought," he said. "When you're up in the air and then you legs come out from underneath you, you don't know what's going to happen the next couple seconds. So that was a pretty scary feeling. Luckily nothing happened, just some little bumps and bruises that hopefully will go away in the next few days."
Barea remains out for a game tonight that will feature last summer's top two draft picks, Irving and No. 2 Derrick Williams.
"I hate to be out, but I've just got to be patient with it and make sure it's ready," he said. "Take it easy. It feels really good, though, but I'm going to be patient. Maybe Sunday or Monday."
The Wolves play three games in three days -- at Washington, at Toronto, Chicago at home -- starting on Sunday.
Asked if he could possibly play three games in three days at this point, he said, "I don't know. That's something we're going to have to talk and think about and see what happens."
Btw, Martell Webster looks like he's doing more and more working out solo on the court, but the team has set no timetable yet for his return from September back surgery.
Nikola Pekovic says he's been ready to play since Sunday.
"I'm fine, I feel good," he said. "If I'm going to play, that's not my decision."
One other thing...
Here's another sign how things are changing at 600 First Ave. N.:
Fans nationally actually want to see this team play now.
The Wolves-Bulls and Phoenix-L.A. Lakers were the two games chosen by fan balloting for Tuesday's "Fan Night" doubleheader on NBA TV.
The Suns-Lakers -- the doubleheader's second half -- got 29 percent of fan voting among five game choices.
The Wolves-Bulls game got 26 percent.
That crowded roster problem the Wolves had after they struck a deal with J.J. Barea isn't quite so crowded anymore.
The Wolves are back to the limit of 15 players now that they've traded Lazar Hayward to Oklahoma City for two second-round picks.
They also acquired guard Robert Vaden and immediately waived him.
Hayward, a 6-5 swingman from Marquette, was the last player taken (30th overall) in the 2010 draft's first round.
Then coach Kurt Rambis was impressed with his shooting during pre-draft workout, but he never really found his position last season and clearly was the odd-man out after the Wolves targeted Barea in free agency.
The Wolves will have to make another move if they sign another free agent such as Jamal Crawford (still a bit of a long shot) or sign a training-camp invitee such as Bonzi Wells or Devean George.
Thunder GM Sam Presti is known for a pretty keen eye for talent and in a released statement he said the team liked him in last year's draft.
He also said Hayward is a player his scouting staff "identified as a potential fit for the culture and identity that we are continuing to build in Oklahoma City. His toughness, length and shooting are attributes that will add depth to our roster while while his professionalism and competitiveness embody the intangibles that we value as an organization."
Earlier on Tuesday, as Kent posted a few hours ago, the Wolves waived free agents Dominique Johnson and Shaun Pruitt.
Yep, with the first pick now just about an hour away, it's looking like the Timberwolves will select the Arizona forward with the second pick in tonight's NBA draft, choose the best player (preferably a shooting guard) with their 20th pick and go quietly into the good night.
Unless, that is, somebody makes them an offer tonight that they haven't received thus far.
After all the chatter -- Wolves are gonna deal for Pau Gasol, no Andrew Bynum, no Andrew Bogut or Roy Hibbert or Andre Iguodala or Josh Smith -- about the team trading that No. 2 pick for a veteran player, expect the Wolves to take Williams and then waiting for the NBA's labor issue to be resolved.
Whenever that is.
Why, quite possibly, no deals?
No. 1/ Timberwolves believe that No. 2 pick is worth a lot more than anybody does.
No. 2/ They sure seem convinced that the new salary cap is going to be restrictive right away and that teams with high payrolls now are going to have to dump at least some salary right away to join the new world.
So, the thinking goes, gather all the young, cheap assets you can and then go into the new season with new rules with a shopping of list of veteran players you can get for a handful of your young guys.
Sort of like what Danny Ainge did with the Celtics all those years before landing Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett within six weeks of each other to go with Paul Pierce.
Now, I'm not saying the Wolves will get a veteran Big Three like that, but I think they're positioning themselves to grab at least one big salary guy -- a guy like a Bynum, a Gasol, a Chris Bosh or maybe even my guy Josh Smith -- for a bargain trade price.
Well, the first pick is coming up soon.
I probably won't be contributing much to the blog here tonight, but for updates follow me on Twitter @JerryZgoda.
It's much easier to fire off updates and newsy tidbits there than update the blog regularly.
For an ongoing discussion, join our Howard Sinker on a live chat at www.startribune.com
You just can't make this stuff up.
One day after Ricky Rubio charmed them at his introductory news conference and one day before the Wolves presumably exercise the highest draft pick in their history, Yahoo! Sports Wednesday night reported what has seemed to be not a matter of if but when since the season ended more than two months ago.
David Kahn has decided to fire Kurt Rambis, but it won't be done or announced until after the draft.
So much for taking the shine off what could have been a rare, victorious week for the Wolves by overshadowing it all with a matter that should have long ago been resolved by now.
Rambis' agent said Wednesday that he and his client haven't been told that, and agent Warren LeGarie said he had gotten off the phone with Kahn.
Yahoo also reported Kahn has been collecting information on University of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar for weeks and will consider him as a candidate, but also reported that Portland assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will be targeted with the possibility that he'd be head coach until his son, Wolves assistant J.B. Bickerstaff, is ready to take over the head job.
At least Danny Olsen should be happy with that news.
He's a Target Corporation employee from Eden Prairie who has started a Facebook page called "Hire J.B.!" for Wolves head coach.
Bernie Bickerstaff is 67 and has an all-time 415-517 record in 14 seasons with Seattle, Denver, Washington and Charlotte.
He hasn't been a head coach since he went 33-49 with Charlotte in the 2006-07 season.
J.B., the former Gophers player, is 32 and those in the know for some time have envisioned him as a future head coach.
Then the question is, just when will he be ready?
That time fairly soon could be coming.
As for Romar, it sure sounds like he's quite happy at his alma mater and soon probably will announce he's officially not interested.
He told told the Seattle Times Wednesday night he felt uncomfortable discussing the Yahoo report because Rambis still is the Wolves' coach.
"It's awkward, maybe, more than flattering," Romar said. "For one, there is a current coach there. So that makes it awkward."
Romar signed a 10-year contract extension last year that pays him $1.7 million annually, not including bonuses.
Why the interest in Romar when very few college coaches, if any other than Rick Pitino maybe, has made the transition to the pro game?
His teams play the kind of fast-paced, running style that Kahn believes he has built this roster to play.
That's all for Wednesday night.
Who knows what Thursday will bring with this organization?
We're into the final countdown now to tomorrow night's NBA draft and...
Tune in for a live chat tomorrow at noon on startribune.com. Get your questions ready for all things Timberwolfish and draft related. Then come back at 6:15 p.m. for another Live Chat with other Wolves fans and the Star Tribune sports staff.
Until then, expect to hear all sorts of stuff about the Wolves, who have been very active working the phones, trying to drum up a deal for that No. 2 overall pick and for just about anybody on their roster not named Love or Rubio.
As I wrote in a draft preview for today's paper, the Wolves are exploring all options that will send away the 2nd pick for a young starting center with some experience and preferably another first-round pick further down in the order.
That's why in recent days you've heard them linked to proposals with the Lakers for Andrew Bynum, with Milwaukee for Andrew Bogut, with Indiana for Roy Hibbert, with Phoenix for Marcin Gortat, with Washington for JaVale McGee.
They're aiming high, which probably means they'll end up taking the best player -- presumably Derrick Williams -- and keeping him, for now.
Wouldn't completely stun me, though, if they went and took Enes Kanter second if they can make a deal for a more experience, a position I think they consider their biggest need.
Bynum would be great -- 23, long, athletic, huge upside -- despite all the injury concerns but I can't see Jim Buss trading him.
At least, though, that idea makes more sense than trading for 31-year-old Pau Gasol, even if he'd help Ricky Rubio's transition to the NBA and America.
Particularly if the Lakers really were asking for both Kevin Love and the No. 2.
David Kahn yesterday at Ricky Rubio's introductory news conference said adamantly that there's no way, no how he's trading either Rubio or Love.
Btw, Rubio learned over up at the podium during the news conference when Kahn said that about him and said, "Thank you."
Bynum rumors were the hot ones yesterday.
Today it's the Steve Nash stuff revisited.
I wrote weeks ago to expect the Wolves to call again about Nash, as they did at the trading deadline.
According to ESPN, they did. The idea, of course, is to add a stablizing veteran to a team that desperately needs one and to give Rubio a mentor to start his NBA career.
Fine idea, but so many problems with the details, namely...he's 37 and there's no way in heck Nash would want to come here at the end of his MVP career.
If he's leaving Phoenix, he wants to go to a team that can win a title...and I don't think he's planning to play until he's 47.
If the Wolves trade the No. 2 pick for a 37-year-old guy, well...no need for further elaboration on that one.
Right now, I'd say it's maybe slightly less than 50/50 that the Wolves trade that pick by tomorrow night, but not from a lack of trying.
I just think the value they place on that pick is way more than other teams do, but we'll see.
The best move: Just take the best player, of course.
This time, that's supposed to be Derrick Williams.
So what if Cleveland surprises and takes Williams first.
Then, Kahn says flat out, they'll take Kyrie Irving and figure out what to do with the best asset left in the draft.
After the last three days, it's obvious: The Wolves have placed the franchise's keys into Ricky Rubio's hands and there's no turning back now.
One other thing of note:
Kurt Rambis wasn't at Rubio's press conference and Kahn said he "doubts" Rambis will be at the draft, although he says the two are working closely together on it.
Kahn said he hopes to talk with Glen Taylor about the matter sometime this week.
Stay tuned. We're about 30 hours away and counting...
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