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Jamal Crawford: Timberwolves 'made sense on every level'

Wolves coach/president of basketball ops and GM Scott Layden introduced their newest player, Jamal Crawford, Wednesday morning at their Mayo Clinic Square practice facility and here’s some of what he had to say:

 

 

    He consulted with former Wolves guard Zach LaVine – two scorers from different generations, but both from Seattle – before he chose to sign with the Wolves.

    “He loved Minnesota, absolutely loved. Obviously, it’s cold, but he said it’s a great city, great people. He enjoyed playing for Coach Thibs. He loved all his teammates. It was cool to talk to him. I talked to B-Roy (Brandon Roy) who played here, I talked to Will Conroy. I remember asking Joe Smith about Minnesota years ago and he loved it. So it’s always been an interesting city to me and now I get the chance to experience first-hand.”

    On choosing Minnesota over Cleveland and other title contenders: “It just made sense on every level.”

    On what fans should expect. Is there a number of victories he has in mind: “I’m not sure it’s a number. I just think we can be somewhere we haven’t been in a while. I’ll just say that.”

    On keep on keeping on at age 37 and how he stays in shape: “Shape has no age.”

    On the Wolves’ newish practice facility: “It’s beautiful. It’s really, really nice. I was able to walk around twice. It has everything. There’s no reason not to be in here all the time.”

    But he says he hasn’t seen Target Center in the midst of its $140 million remodel yet. “We’re going to have that place rocking this year.”

    * Thibodeau already has started to think about a small-ball lineup that’ll feature Jeff Teague and Crawford in the backcourt and Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns up front: “I don’t know how you would defend that group.”

    Thibodeau still wants to sign a backup point guard and two more wing players from a free-agent pool that still has plenty of players left looking for deals.

    Amidst all that, looming as well is a contract extension for Wiggins that is expected to be one of the two maximum five-year, designated-player slots the Wolves are allowed under the new CBA. Wiggins is eligible to sign such a deal that's expected to approach $150 million total before the start of this coming season. Towns is eligible for the same before the 2018-19 season.

    “We’re working on it right now,” Thibodeau said about Wiggins’ contract extension.

     

Thibodeau on Wolves' point-guard swap: 'We have to get out of this hole'

Timberwolves coach/president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau commented on the team's moves these six days in a conference call with reporters this afternoon and said the team did what it needed to do to get better by essentially swapping point guards, Ricky Rubio for newcomer Jeff Teague.

"Ricky did a good job here," Thibodeau said. "We're happy for him. We wish him well. He made a number of contributions to our team and organization and community and we certainly appreciate that. For us, where we are, we have to get out of this hole and we felt we had an opp to improve our team and that's why we did what we did. It's the tough part of this job. You always have to put the team first and so that's what we did. When we had an opportunity to get a guy like Jeff Teague, that's what we wanted to do."

The Wolves traded Rubio to Utah last Friday for a 2018 first-round pick belonging to Oklahoma City, but more importantly by doing so they cleared Rubio's $14.1 million salary that allowed them to sign Teague to a three-year, $57 million free-agent deal.

Thibodeau said he likes that Teague has played in on "teams that won big" -- his Atlanta Hawks won 60 games two seasons ago and reached the Eastern Conference finals -- and praised his skills as a "terrific" and speedy pick and roll play" who can get into the lane and can finish his drives. He said he was impressed how difficult Teague and Al Horford were to defend in pick and rolls, particularly in the playoffs.

The Wolves also have agreed to sign Taj Gibson, who played for Thibodeau in Chicago, but still need to fill out the rest of the roster with versatile wing players off the bench who can shoot and defend. They have 10 players signed to guaranteed contracts and have a 15-man big-league roster to fill.

Thibdoeau said the team has four roster spots to fill; maybe he's got one in the pocket not revealed yet.

Asked if he has concerns that the Wolves can address their remaining needs with the $4.3 million "room" exception and league minimum contract they still can give.

"Well, you always have a level of concern," he said. "But we have four spots to fill. We're doing our due diligence. We'll see the possibilities that are out there...We think we're in good position."

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