International flavor pervades Wolves, Spurs

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 7, 2013 - 12:15 AM

Earlier this month, Anthony Davis, center, was double-teamed on a shot attempt by Minnesota Timberwolves' Nikola Pekovic of Montenegro, left, and Andrei Kirilenko of Russia.

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

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If everybody was healthy - and with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Andrei Kirilenko all out, they weren't - the Timberwolves and San Antonio together would have had 15 international players from which to choose on Wednesday.

Using new math, that's half of 30.

The Spurs long have been the leaders in the NBA's international movement, but now the Wolves are following right behind with players from Russian, Spain, Montenegro, France and Puerto Rico.

"Minnesota has done it big time," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I think it's smart, it's very smart. Sometimes you can even get lucky and find somebody who's a Nowitzki or a Ginobili or a Parker."

The Spurs, of course, found two of those three, plucking Ginobili near the end of the 1999 draft and Tony Parker near the end of the 2001 draft's first round. Dallas got the other guy, Dirk Nowitzki.

San Antonio has nine international players on its 15-man roster.


The Spurs started their nine-game February "rodeo" trip Wednesday by sitting out Duncan (sore left knee) and Ginobili (hamstring) with injuries. Kirilenko did not play because of a strained quad sustained Monday against Portland.

The Wolves started 10-day contract guy Mickael Gelabale at small forward in Kirilenko's place, even though Gelabale has a bruised quad, too.

Kirilenko predicted he'll be out "four, five days" with his injury.


Kirilenko was presented the EuroPlayer of the Year award before Wednesday's game. It's given by an Italian newspaper to the European player voted best based upon his club and national team performances. He led CSKA Moscow to the Euroleague final four and the Russian Olympic team to the bronze medal in London.

"It's very nice to have, but I always think basketball is a team sport," he said.


• Kevin Love is back in Minnesota after spending the past three weeks rehabilitating his healing hand in New York. He wore a suit and sat on the bench during the game without any wrap protecting his hand. He will meet with media members after Thursday's practice for the first time since his Jan. 15 surgery.

• Wolves forward Lou Amundson continues to await word of his fate. Thursday is the last day of 10-day contracts for Gelabale and Chris Johnson. Amundson's agent has been talking with teams about possible trades if the Wolves deal or waive his client so they can sign both players for the rest of the season.


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