Roy serious about making second chance in Minnesota work

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 7, 2012 - 12:22 AM

His knees remain a question mark, but the new Timberwolves guard wants "to play really well at a high level," his agent said.

Six years later, the blue Timberwolves cap that Brandon Roy wore so briefly on draft night still is on display in his mother's living room.

Roy volunteered that little tidbit when he met with Wolves owner Glen Taylor, President of Basketball Operations David Kahn and coach Rick Adelman in Seattle last week, bemused by fate's fickle hand and the roundabout journey that now finally brings him to Minnesota after the team traded him away just minutes after selecting him.

The same franchise that worried about Roy's problematic knees enough it swapped him for Randy Foye and a chunk of cash long ago now is betting on those same knees with a partially guaranteed two-year, $10 million-plus contract agreement reached Thursday.

At least five other teams pursued Roy, a three-time All-Star who retired in December because of a degenerative knee condition that has left him without cartilage in either one.

But his agent on Friday said Roy chose the Wolves because of their detailed and sincere pursuit, their existing roster that Roy considers young and promising and perhaps because the team's most glaring deficiency is at shooting guard, Roy's position.

And they are also believed to have offered more money than anybody -- at least the first year's $5 million-plus guaranteed, the second year dependent on his health -- although agent Greg Lawrence said money wasn't a determining factor.

The two agreed on the deal Thursday, the same day the Wolves reached verbal agreement with restricted free agent Nicolas Batum on a four-year offer sheet expected to pay him at least $45 million.

Ultimately, Lawrence said, Roy decided he wanted to join former Portland assistant coach Bill Bayno with a franchise he ultimately decided was "a team that's headed north."

The Wolves were the only team that sent a full contingent to Seattle to visit him -- owner included -- on owner Glen Taylor's private jet.

Lawrence called the excursion "a real sign they were serious."

"They not only expressed their interest face-to-face, they presented their vision," he said. "It was compelling, having Rick Adelman tell you what his vision is for the team and where you fit in."

Roy plans to move his wife and two young children to Minnesota, planning that it will be his future beyond the contract's two years. When asked by the Wolves at the meeting about the prospect of living in the frozen north, Roy answered that he wants his kids to experience a white Christmas.

"It wasn't one or two things," Lawrence said. "It was everything. It just fit."

Of course, one big question remains: Can Roy, who turns 28 this month, still play?

Will his knees allow him?

Wolves doctors received Roy's medical records and the team sent athletic trainer Gregg Farnam on Taylor's jet for last week's meeting. In May, he received the same injection therapy sought by Kobe Bryant and Alex Rodriguez that uses a patient's own blood and its natural anti-inflammatory proteins to reduce osteoarthritis' pain.

There's no repair for a knee that has no cartilage left, but Lawrence said Roy is experiencing less pain and swelling after workouts already, even though the process usually requires three months for full effect.

"Look, it's not a magic potion he rubs on his knees and all of a sudden he feels great," Lawrence said. "But there is small, incremental improvement."

Roy contemplated a comeback last winter, two months after he officially retired with an agreement the Trail Blazers would pay him the remaining $63 million on his contract. He started slowly, then ramped up his workouts, his body feeling better as he went.

"It's not something he has to do, it's something he wants to do and do at a high level," Lawrence said. "Brandon is more in tune with his body than anyone I've ever met because of what he has been through."

He has not returned to the NBA to be the "last guy on the bench," Lawrence said.

All he wants is a chance to prove himself once again, whether it's in a starter's role or as a reserve who plays 15-20 minutes a night, some of those at the end of games nightly.

"What he wants is an opportunity where whatever he earns is what he should get," Lawrence said. "If that means he plays at a starter's level in training camp, an opportunity to start. If he's playing at a sixth-man level, then a sixth man. He never said, 'Guarantee me a starting spot.' All he wants is a chance to play really well at a high level."

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