Forgotten man Jaric waits for an opportunity to stand out

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 2, 2007 - 9:33 PM

Marko Jaric is still here.

Jaric has started and he has sat since coming to the Timberwolves from the Los Angeles Clippers in the Sam Cassell deal before the 2005-06 season.

There have been times when, frankly, he felt that it would be better if he were somewhere else. On another team, with another system, with more opportunity.

But he says he's not thinking that way right now, because right now there is a lot of opportunity. With Randy Foye down because of a stress reaction in his knee, the Wolves have a lot of available minutes at point guard. In Friday's opener against Denver, Wolves coach Randy Wittman started Sebastian Telfair. But Jaric will get his chance.

"I'm never happy when someone is injured," Jaric said. "You can't be happy about that. But definitely it's an opportunity. And in this league the most important thing is taking advantage of opportunities."

Wittman sees Jaric as the man to use when size and a slower pace is needed. When he's looking for someone to pick up defensively full-court or push the pace on offense Telfair will be the man.

Jaric, meanwhile, is trying to keep as open a mind as he is convinced Wittman has.

"Whoever keeps the team in a winning situation, that's the guy who's going to play," he said. "This is no time for complaining. I need to try to play my best when I get on the court."

Those were the days

Back in the spring of 2004, when the Wolves and Nuggets locked up in a first-round playoff series, it was a matchup of the older Wolves and the upstart Nuggets. It was an intense series that appeared to set in motion a rivalry that would last for years.

Or maybe not. Now the Nuggets have more veterans, the Wolves have eight players 24 years old or younger. Plus, it's hard to maintain a rivalry when the only member of that 2003-04 Wolves team still here is Mark Madsen.

"I remember Latrell Sprewell out there, taking it coast to coast," Madsen said. "Sam [Cassell] at the top of his game, Kevin [Garnett] as MVP of the league. That was a special time here, something we want to build back to with this group here."

Only three members of the 2003-04 Nuggets team remain: Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby and Nene. Another member of that team, Michael Doleac, is now with the Wolves.

Still, the intensity of that series has stuck with Madsen -- Sprewell and Jon Barry jawing, Francisco Elson angry with Garnett.

"Things change quickly," Madsen said.

Where's Kevin?

By now Wolves fans have probably gotten used to the fact that Garnett is gone. But count Denver coach George Karl as one man who didn't like the trade on general principal.

"I was sad when Gary Payton left Seattle," he said. "There are certain guys who should die and live in the city [they start with]. ... I'm happy that Kevin will have a chance to get back into the playoffs. But my thought is he should be in Minnesota."

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