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Continued: Wolves: It had to be asked

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 29, 2007 - 9:46 PM

5 Q How many Timberwolves will it take to replace Garnett's averages of 22.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.2 steals last season?

A "Five," Foye said. "All five of us on the floor."

Perhaps not that many, but also maybe not that far off.

"Everybody asks how do you make up for KG's rebounding and scoring," Wittman said. "We're not going to have one guys average 25, 12 and five. If we do, I'll be real happy. You'll have combinations now of guys needing to do more."

6 Q Summer-workout observers suggest forward Gerald Green might be the team's most explosive player. What must he do to fulfill the promise of that athleticism?

A At 6-8 and a mere 200 pounds, the 21-year-old third-year player who came directly out of a Houston high school must grow big ears.

"I just think it's a matter of him learning the game," Wittman said. "He's got all the athleticism. He can shoot the ball. Now we as coaches have to teach him to play the game and learn the difference between a good shot and a bad shot. There isn't any reason he shouldn't be a hell of a defender. He's got great size, speed, the jumping ability. My main objective is teaching him to play the game the right way. It's not a pickup game where you just come out and play. There's a method to the madness."

7 Q Is second-year forward Craig Smith really odd?

A Kevin McHale says as much. "In our league, the best guys are the ones who are physically odd somehow," he said. "And Craig is one of those guys. He's a matchup nightmare. He's just got that quickness to go by longer guys and he can overpower smaller guys. He's unique. Craig can be a really, really good player in our league for a long time."

Smith's promising play last season reversed the franchise's rich history of second-round draft pick busts, and he impressed in summer-league play after arriving stronger and 15 pounds lighter. He might be sidelined for all the team's upcoming 10-day European trip because of a sprained ankle sustained last week.

So is he really odd? "Yeah, I'm kind of odd," said Smith, a 6-7, 250-pound forward. "I consider myself a mutant."

8 Q Can Theo Ratliff, a two-time NBA shot-block leader recovering at age 34 from season-ending back surgery eight months ago, still play?

A Nobody knows. Ratliff, who played two games with Boston last season before his January surgery and said he has been working out fully all summer, declared himself healthy on Friday. If he is, he would give the Wolves in limited minutes something the franchise has never had: a true shot blocker.

"I definitely bring that to the table," Ratliff said. "I will defend the basket."

Whatever he can give the Wolves is secondary to this important fact: His contract, which will pay him $11.6 million, expires after this season.

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