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Wiggins, Muhammad return, possible for Wolves' preseason finale Friday

Both out for Wednesday’s preseason victory over Memphis, the Wolves’ Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad returned to practice Thursday and did most of the same work their teammates did.

Wiggins didn’t play Wednesday because of an allergic reaction to something. Muhammad was held out because of hip soreness that, according to coach Tom Thibodeau, had been bothering him for some time.

Asked if both will play in Friday’s preseason finale against Charlotte at Target Center, Thibodeau said, “We’ll see. They were better today, but I don’t want to jump to any conclusions. They actually did quite a bit in practice today. We’re not going to take any chances. But if they can go, they’ll go. They also need work.”

Wiggins’ allergic reaction remains a mystery.

“I don’t know what it is,” Thibodeau said. “He doesn’t know what it is. No one knows.”

Other stuff from today’s practice:

1. The Wolves must submit their 15-man roster by Monday, but will have to make moves by then to allow time for the waiver process to work. They currently have 17 on their roster. Waiving Toure’ Murry is a given, but there’s also not room for all three of Rasual Butler, John Lucas III and Adreian Payne. Of those three, only Payne has a guaranteed contract ($2 million) for this season.

Thibodeau said he and GM Scott Layden will contemplate their own roster possibilities and look around the league to see who else might be available, either by trade or free-agent signing.

“It’s the tough part of the job,” Thibodeau said. “Everyone who’s here is deserving and they’re all capable of playing. But it will come down to doing what we feel is best for our team. But those decisions are always tough decisions.”

2. A matter of procedure, the Wolves also will extend third-year contract offers to Wiggins and Zach LaVine – both products of the 2014 draft – for the 2017-18 season in the coming days.

There’s no indication they’ll strike contract extensions with either Gorgui Dieng or Shabazz Muhammad in the next week or so. If they don’t, both players will become restricted free agents next summer.

3. Sacramento on Thursday became the 15th NBA team to own or operate a D League franchise when they bought control of the Reno Bighorns. In time, all 30 NBA teams likely will have their own D League team. That, of course, would include the Wolves, who right now have no affiliation with such a team. Potential cities for them to strike such an arrangement include places like Rochester, St. Cloud, Fargo, Sioux Falls, Des Moines and Omaha.

“We’re still studying,” said Thibodeau, also the Wolves’ president of basketball operations. “The way we are now, the way we’re built, our young players are playing here. Eventually down the road, you’re going to see most teams will have one. It’s on the horizon, but it’s not immediate.”

When asked if it will happen in the next year or two, he said, “Probably.”

5. Dieng talked emotionally after practice today about former Wolves basketball boss and coach Flip Saunders, the man who drafted him in 2013 and coached him for a season. The one-year anniversary of Saunders’ death is Tuesday.

Dieng spoke about how hard he took his coach’s death – “It took me like two months to get back to normal, I couldn’t sleep,” he said – and you’ll hear more from players whom Saunders brought to Minnesota in a story that will run early next week.

6. Expect to see some of the Wolves players at tonight’s WNBA Finals’ deciding Game 5 between the Lynx and Los Angeles.

“Oh, we’re pulling for the Lynx,” Thibodeau said. “It’s great what they’re doing. It’s rare when you have an opportunity to be part of and watch a dynasty being built. What they’re doing is really special. The way they play: They play great, they play together, they’re smart and they’re tough. I love watching them play. I’m sure most of our guys will be there, but we also have to be ready for tomorrow.”

7. Zach LaVine will received his NBA Cares Community Assist award before Friday's game. He won it for the month of April last season because of his work with the Metro Deaf School. He donated a $10,000 charitable contribution that comes with it to the Flip Saunders Legacy Fund. 

Towns, Thibodeau, more: NBA GMs expect big things from Wolves

Optimism regarding the Timberwolves is spreading around the league.

The NBA’s 2016-07 GM survey was released today. In it, you can find a bunch of Minnesota optimism, including:

--GMs were asked which team will be most improved in the coming season. The Wolves won, easily, getting 56.7 percent of the votes. The Wolves won 29 games last season, and have since added a top five draft pick (Kris Dunn). But, more importantly, the team hired Tom Thibodeau as president of basketball operations and head coach and Scott Layden as general manager.

Not surprisingly, given the talent he inherited, GMs think Thibodeau will have a big impact. And a quick one.

In all, 78.3 percent of GMs voted for Thibodeau when asked which new (or relocated) coach will have the biggest impact this season. Also, Thibodeau was named the coach with the best defensive schemes, finishing with 60 percent of the vote, ahead of Gregg Popovich in San Antonio (33.3 percent).

--Karl-Anthony Towns got big-time praise. GMs were asked the following question: “if you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?’’

Towns finished first, at 48.3 percent. Second was Kevin Durant (20.7) and LeBron James was third (17.2).

Towns also came in second – behind Devin Booker of Phoenix -- on the question of which player is most likely to have a breakout season. Booker got 31 percent of the vote, Towns 13.8. Wolves wing Andrew Wiggins tied D’Angelo Russell of the Lakers for fourth on that list.

Towns was also named the fifth best center in the league, behind DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol.

--Dunn was named, by a landslide, as the player most likely to win rookie of the year. Dunn got 46.7 percent of the vote, well ahead of Buddy Hield and Ben Simmons (13.3 percent each). Were Dunn to win the award, it would give the Wolves three straight ROY awards.

When asked which rookie will be the best player in five years, Dunn finished second to Simmons. Dunn also finished second when GMs were asked which rookie was the biggest steal in the draft.

--Zach was named the league’s third most athletic player, getting 10.3 percent of the vote. He finished behind Russell Westbrook (62.1 percent) and James (17.2).

--Ricky Rubio was named the league’s third-best passer, behind Chris Paul and James.

If you want to take a look at the entire survey, you can see it here:


TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Rutgers at Gophers football

    11 am on ESPNU, 100.3-FM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Ohio State

    2 pm

  • Wild at New Jersey

    6 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Minnesota United FC at Carolina

    6:30 pm on Ch. 29

  • Gophers men's hockey at St. Cloud State

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 1500-AM

  • Vikings at Philadelphia

    12 pm on Ch. 9, 100.3/1130

  • Wild at N.Y. Islanders

    5 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Wild at Boston

    6 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Memphis

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Wild at Buffalo

    6 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • St. Cloud State at Gophers women's hockey

    7:07 pm on BTN PLUS

  • Gophers men's hockey at Clarkson

    6 pm on 1500-AM

  • St. Cloud State at Gophers women's hockey

    7:07 pm on BTN PLUS

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

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