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 just got done working out in Phoenix, back to work again after Tuesday's victory at Indiana broke their 15-game losing streak.
A bunch of this and that from practice:
* Kevin Martin had a good day at practice pain free, feeling well and could return almost any day now.
"I think I'm getting close, I think I impressed them today," he said. "I was back to K-Mart today. Today was a big step."
Asked if he was inspired by teammate Mo Williams' career-high and franchise-record 52-point game Tuesday, he said, "I don't know what it was, I think it was. I've been hanging out with Mo lately, I think he rubbed off on my today.
Martin said he's uncertain if that means he'll play sometime on the remaining three games of this road trip that goes Phoenix Friday, Denver Saturday, Charlotte Monday.
Asked if he could play as soon as Friday against the Suns, he said, "I don't think it's likely, but you never know when you wake up."
Flip Saunders said it's all up to Martin to make the call and tell him that day when he's ready.
"I don't know if he's ready yet," Saunders said. "That's going to be his call. One of these days he's going to get up in the morning and say he's ready"
* Martin is closest of the trio of injured that includes Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio.
Rubio is the furthest away of the three and Saunders said Rubio still has some soreness on the inside of his ankle and said "definitely not" about the prospect of Rubio playing on this trip.
"Almost like a little bone bruise so we're going to be very cautious with that," Saunders said.
Saunders said Pekovic is willing to go to the D League for rehab and the team would send him there, but the D League's current Showcase in Santa Cruz, Calif., might mean the timing won't work out for Pekovic to go down and get 22, 24 minutes in a game.
Saunders said Pekovic's issue now is conditioning, says he's not having any pain in that troublesome ankle.
* Former Sacramento coach Mike Malone was at practice today and will travel with the team on the rest of this trip.
He coached Williams at Cleveland, knows Martin and he walked out of practice today chatting with Thaddeus Young.
Saunders said he's done that before with other coaches who have been fired because "the first three days you get 120 calls. Everyone tells you how great you are and two weeks later, no one talks to you."
Saunders said he invited Malone to come down and travel with the team and he accepted.
"It's good to have him and it's something hopefully that will help him, too," Saunders said.
* Williams has been fielding calls and text messages since that 52-point game Tuesday.
"I got a lot of reaction," he said. "It was a special moment for myself. A lot of people saw it and gave me a lot of attention for it. But I'm a couple days removed from it, so it's dying down a little bit."
When asked if he has gone back and watched the game, "To be honest with you, I just saw the clips they put on social media, on my Facebook page or whatever, I saw the highlights, definitely I did."
When asked if he watched the game to see if it really happened, Saunders said, "It was real. I was there."
The Wolves added some size Thursday by signing 7-foot center Miroslav Raduljica to a 10-day contract. Raduljica is a native of Serbia who spent the 2013-14 season with the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 3.8 points and 2.3 rebounds. He was traded to the Clippers last August, waived and had been playing with Shandong of the Chinese Basketball Association, where he averaged 18.3 points and 9.1 rebounds in 14 games this season.
Raduljica will provide depth at center, where Gorjui Dieng has been logging heavy minutes since ankle problems sidelined Nikola Pekovic. The roster spot opened up when the Wolves waived forward Jeff Adrien on Wednesday.
The Timberwolves have waived forward Jeff Adrien. Signed by the Wolves on Nov. 29, he averaged 3.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 12.8 minutes in 16 games. The Wolves needed to waive Adrien by Saturday or guarantee his contract for the rest of the season.
The team can still re-sign him to a 10-day contract. But the Wolves, very much in need of size with Nikola Pekovic still battling a sore ankle, could opt instead to sign free agent Miroslav Raduljica. The 7-foot former Milwaukee Bucks center who was released last month by a Chinese team.
I’ll get back to you after we talk with Wolves coach Flip Saunders pre-game. Stay warm.
A couple quick injury updates now that the Wolves have reconvened from their very brief Christmas break and are about to tip off a three-game Western trip tonight in Denver:
Ricky Rubio ran full court with his teammates today for the first time, participating in some dummy offensive work on that healing sprained ankle at the morning shootaround.
Flip Saunders said Rubio still has a hitch in his gait when he runs, but said he's hopeful Rubio can do some contact work by the New Year, then perhaps can play some limited minutes in games seven to 10 days after that.
Nikola Pekovic has started running on the anti-gravity treadmill -- the machine on which he run without bearing his body weight -- at 50 or 60 percent and will have MRIs done on his wrist and ankle/foot when the team returns home from this trip after playing at Utah on Tuesday.
Saunders said Pekovic likely will go to the D League to play some games when he is ready, but said Rubio will not. The difference: Saunders said Pekovic's injury is a chronic one that will need the benefit of more court time while Rubio's is not. Saunders said the team should have sent Chase Budinger to the D League to get his conditioning and timing down last year with that chronic knee injury.
Kevin Love had hugs and handshakes all around for some of his old mates when the Timberwolves took the floor here in Cleveland for their morning shoot just after the Cavaliers were finishing up.
He chatted with Flip Saunders, the man who traded him to Cleveland last summer, as well as former teammate Kevin Martin and members of the team's training and media-relations staff before his first game against the team for which he played six NBA seasons.
"It always is a different feel," he said about playing against old friends. "It will probably be even more different when we head back and play them at Target Center."
That game is Jan. 31.
On Monday, Saunders said Minnesotans are a loyal bunch who don't forgive when someone turns on them.
When asked about Wolves fans who'll never forgive him and forget that he forced his way out with that August trade,
"I try to stay off that stuff because negative stuff makes for more than what us people have in common," Love said. "So I try to stay off that stuff. I know when somebody leaves, they more often than not don't want to say good things about him. I think (Saunders) was right in a lot of ways, but at the same time I made a lot of great relationships in the Twin Cities that will carry on throughout my career and post career."
Almost forgotten is a homecoming of sorts for Wolves forward Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, if you can call it that.
Bennett played just one season in Cleveland, Wiggins was a Cav for barely a month, two months if you count that 30-day waiting period to announce the trade.
"It was a long 30 days, just waiting for the decision," Wiggins said. "No hate or nothing like that...I'm excited, more excited than usual."
If you haven't seen it yet, I've been in Cleveland since Saturday working on a Love story that ran in today's paper. You can find it here.
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