Wolves' new players welcomed at a fair to remember

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 27, 2014 - 8:55 AM

The Timberwolves waited 30 long days to finalize and announce Saturday’s blockbuster trade that sent unhappy superstar Kevin Love to Cleveland for three players and a reframed future.

But it was the moratorium mandated by NBA rules that allowed them Tuesday to synchronize the franchise’s change in direction with an event that couldn’t be any more Minnesotan: They introduced newcomers Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young to their new home and to the masses at the Minnesota State Fair, where all three players and fellow addition Zach LaVine soaked in the cheers and sunshine on a perfect late summer’s day.

They ate stuff on a stick, zoomed headfirst down the giant slide and toured the fairgrounds accompanied by uniformed police and followed by trailing faithful fans who really haven’t had anything much to cheer about in a decade without a playoff appearance but found hope in Tuesday’s welcome.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Young, who played his first seven NBA seasons in Philadelphia before spending his first real day as a Timberwolf surrounded on grounds that drew more than 100,000 fairgoers Tuesday. “I’ve never been a part of something this big before.”

Wiggins, the June draft’s No. 1 overall pick, finally found a home after a summer in which he was selected by Cleveland and played for the Cavaliers’ Las Vegas Summer League team last month but then had to wait through an awkward month before the Wolves, the Cavs and the NBA finally could admit he had been traded.

On Tuesday, he experienced what he called his new home “showing me love” and said the reception gave him “chill-bumps.”

“It has been a crazy summer, up and down, kind of lost, not knowing where I’m going,” Wiggins said from a stage surrounded by hundreds of fans at the team’s formal news conference to announce the trade and introduce the new players. “I wanted to play for a team that wanted me. I felt the love as soon as I got out of the airport [on Monday]. It’s all good now. I’m excited for the season. I’m going to do good by all you guys. I’m going to do my best to work hard and show love to all you guys and hope I get the same in return.”

On the same afternoon the Cavaliers introduced Love in Cleveland, Minnesotans — as represented by teenagers wearing paper pig ears and new parents pushing industrial-sized strollers — welcomed Wiggins and Bennett, the past two NBA draft’s No. 1 overall picks, and Young, a seven-year vet who now at age 26 will start next season at Love’s power-forward spot.

“Everybody talks about me being the replacement for Kevin Love,” said Young, who was acquired from Philadelphia as part of the three-way trade. “I’m not trying to do that. I’m not trying to go out there and do individual stats. I’m not trying to be a 26 [points] and 12 [rebounds] guy. I mean, I would love it, but at the end of the day, defense and teamwork wins championships.”

What he is trying to do, Young said, is help a Wolves team that hasn’t won in a decade.

“I’m just ready to get this franchise back to the playoffs,” Young said. “It has been 10 years. It has been too long. Way, way, way too long. I’m all for this. I’m ready to get with these young guys and get going. Let’s go.”

Bennett was chosen first overall by the Cavaliers in the 2013 draft, but struggled mightily through most of a rookie season in which he was both recovering from summertime shoulder surgery and being out of shape.

“I just want to prove that I can play,” said Bennett, who underwent surgeries on his tonsils and adenoids last spring that he says has helped his sleep apnea. “Last year, I never got a chance to showcase that. I just want to go out here and play well. I have Thaddeus Young here I can learn from.”

The players introduced Tuesday are new to Minnesota, but not to each other or some of their new teammates. Wiggins worked out in preparation for the June draft with LaVine, chosen 13th overall by the Wolves, in California. Young is friends with Wolves veteran Corey Brewer because both are from Tennessee and said the two have been talking for most of the last month like “we were already on the team together.” He also has played with new teammate Chase Budinger on a U.S. national team that won a gold medal in France.

Wiggins and Bennett both grew up in Toronto, where they played AAU ball together and were members of the same Canadian national teams. They also played together for the Cavs’ summer-league team in Las Vegas.

“The chemistry is already there,” Wiggins said. “I don’t have to learn his game and he doesn’t have to learn my game.”

The only thing Bennett needed to learn in Tuesday’s sunshine was the taste of alligator.

“Not a stick,” he said after finishing a long, chewy bite. “It’s good, though. It tastes just like chicken, like everyone says.”


  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Which local team is currently the biggest disappointment?

Weekly Question