George welcomes the chance to mentor young Wolves

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 5, 2011 - 11:49 PM

The 11-year NBA veteran, who sat out last season because of personal reasons, is aiming for a roster spot with his hometown team.

Former Augsburg star Devean George (left), an 11-year NBA veteran who sat out last season because of personal reasons, is aiming for a roster spot with his hometown team.

Former Augsburg star Devean George watched it all unfold before his eyes during an 11-year NBA career he now hopes to extend one more season.

At age 34, he wants to pass along all he has learned to these very young Timberwolves, just as Ron Harper, Mitch Richmond, John Salley, Shaquille O'Neal, Glen Rice, Brian Shaw and a guy named Kobe Bryant did for him when he first entered the league directly from NCAA Division III basketball in 1999.

George will come to training camp, which opens Friday, hoping a job presents itself during this shortened 66-game season. He would like to stick around in a player development/mentor role if a spot doesn't open on a roster that already numbers the full limit of 15 players.

"What better way to get some advice than somebody who has seen the movie that you're watching right now?" George asked after working out alone at Target Center on Monday.

George has seen that movie: He made the leap to the NBA in one swift step and won titles with the Los Angeles Lakers each of his first three NBA seasons. He played seven seasons in L.A., three in Dallas and one in Golden State. He created controversy by refusing to be part of a trade that eventually brought Jason Kidd to the Mavericks, and withstood injuries.

He didn't play last season because of what he called off-the-court matters that focused his attention elsewhere.

When asked what he knows now that most of these young Timberwolves don't yet, George smiled and said, "Playing time, coaches not playing you, things not going your way, personal issues, finances. ... All these things guys are going through or are going to go through, we've been through it and seen it. I was thankful that I had a lot of good vets when I went to the Lakers. No matter what I brought them every day, somebody had a solution: 'Call this person' or 'That happened to me, too, call that person.'

"I can still call Karl Malone to this day and ask him for a favor."

George attended a few Wolves games last season and worked out with forwards Anthony Randolph and Anthony Tolliver.

"We were doing the math: When I won my first championship in L.A., he was in the fifth grade," George said about the 22-year-old Randolph.

When he played that one season for Golden State, George played with rookie guard Steph Curry.

"I played against his dad [Dell] and now I was playing with him on the same team," George said. "I just kinda fell into that [mentoring] role and I kinda liked it."

That same season, Warriors coach Don Nelson -- famous for appreciating savvy veterans -- turned practice over to George to run a few times.

"He will be a great coach," Nelson texted from Hawaii on Monday. "Nice pick-up."

George said he's not interested in playing or working for another franchise other than the Wolves because he lives in Minnetonka.

"I was born and raised here," said George, who also owns a place in Southern California. "This is my home."

George remembers what it was like to be a young player, when he said he was always willing to listen rather than talk first with the Lakers.

"I always had the mentality like, 'These guys know something I don't,'" he said. "I listened and learned from their examples. I wasn't one who wanted to find out for myself. I always took their advice and said, 'Well, he's telling me this is what's going to happen, so I'm not going to do that.'

"Some young guys want to experience it themselves. I'm trying to sell you the end of the movie, that there's going to be a scary part coming, but some young guys just want to see it for themselves."

Notes

• Wolves guard Ricky Rubio was in Canada on Monday on his way from California to Minnesota and training camp. He had to go to an American embassy/consulate to obtain a work visa and since there are none in the United States, he had travel to one outside the country.

• The NBA schedule will be released Tuesday night via a 6 p.m. show on NBA TV.

• New coach Rick Adelman and his coaching staff -- Terry Porter, Jack Sikma, T.R. Dunn, Bill Bayno and sons R.J. and David -- all were in town on Monday after arriving on Sunday.

• The NBA cleared teams to have contact with players starting Monday. Wolves President David Kahn watched the slimmed-down Kevin Love shoot at Target Center and said, "He looks great."

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