Jerry Zgoda missed the entire Kevin Garnett era, but he's back covering the Timberwolves after working the beat for their first four seasons two decades ago. In between, he covered a bit of everything: Gopher men's and women's basketball and NCAA athletics, golf, outdoor recreation, sports media and a little Vikings and Twins.
A MRI taken in Miami on Ricky Rubio’s injured ankle confirmed a “significant” sprain and he is out indefinitely.
It’ll likely be at least two weeks until the team has a better idea the damage caused when he badly rolled his ankle just before halftime of Friday’s 112-103 overtime loss at Orlando.
The injury was not diagnosed as a “high ankle” sprain, which is good news because that’s a slow-healing injury that can take six to eight weeks or more to heal.
The MRI also confirmed there is no fracture.
Rubio is in Miami with the team, but will not be at the arena for tonight’s game against the Heat.
He is expected to return home to Minneapolis sometime this weekend and will not travel on the rest of this trip that will take the team to Mexico City, New Orleans and Dallas.
If I had to guess, and it’s just me spit-balling here, I’d say he’s out at least three to four weeks.
Rubio was injured late in Friday’s second quarter in Orlando when he drove the lane toward the basket and he badly turned his ankle, it almost bending over and touching the floor. The play drew on a foul, but he also ended up under the basket writhing in pain.
After being attended to, he was helped by teammates and the Wolves’ training staff off the floor to keep weight off that ankle.
He was x-rayed immediately in the arena and made his way back to the locker room on crutches.
Wolves president of basketball operations and head coach Flip Saunders made it official today, announcing J.J. Barea had been waived after the team reached a negotiated buyout with the veteran guard.
That means Barea will be free to sign with another team, and that Flip decided to go with rookie Glenn Robinson for the final roster spot. For Saunders, the decision came down to the direction he wants to take the team.
“We thought it best to go in a different direction,” Saunders said. “J.J. has been a consummate pro. I thought he had a very good training camp for us, and played really well in the preseason. He’s been a pro, he’s done everything we asked him to do. And so we wish him well moving forward.”
But the Wolves have committed themselves to developing their young roster.
“I think it was a situation that, with Mo Williams coming in, [Barea} didn’t feel he’d get as much of an opportunity,” Saunders said. “ And we also felt that Glenn Robinson has a chance to be a very good player in this league. And so what happens is, when you make a decision as an organization to go in a certain direction… you either have to be committed to it or not.’’
Barea is reportedly interested in signing with Dallas, the team he was with before coming to the Wolves., after he clears waivers.
Barea spent three seasons with the team. He averaged 11.3 points in each of his first two seasons here, 8.4 points per game last season. Barea was due just over $4.5 million this season, the final year of his contract.
That means that Ricky Rubio and Williams will handle the bulk of the point guard duties, with rookie first-round draft pick Zach LaVine as the No. 3, though Saunders indicated that the team likely wouldn’t need a third point guard that often. “But Zach would be the third [point] guard in that situation,” Saunders said. “As we get into it, we simplify game plans as we go in, so it will be easier for Zach to play in those situations as we move forward.’’
In other news, Andrew Wiggins, who returned full-time to practice Sunday, was fine Monday and is set for the opener. Saunders said all 15 players on the roster are healthy.
Alexey Shved says he doesn’t matter where he plays, he just wants to play.
Shved is the Russian player who came to the Wolves before the 2012-13 season and spent much of that season showing he might have a future as a shooting guard. Getting an opportunity in large part because of a long injury list, Shved played in 77 games, started 16 and scored 8.6 points and 3.7 assists.
Last season was a different story. The 6-6 Shved saw his numbers and productivity drop.
And now? President of basketball operations and head coach Flip Saunders wants Shved to work at playing some point guard.
And that’s what Shved has been doing since the team’s summer league roster began prepping for league play, which begins this weekend in Las Vegas.
“It doesn’t matter – point guard, shooting guard,” Shved said. “I just want to play.’’
Shved has some abilities that would seem to make the move plausible. Saunders likes Shved’s height, which allows him to look over defenses much like a big quarterback can see things over the middle. He likes that Shved has the ability stay in front of an opponent on defense.
Saunders made his intentions known on draft night, when he said being able to add point guard duties was a key for Shved to extend his NBA career.
This week Saunders has softened his stance, saying he’d like Shved to be able to contribute to work at both positions, with the key being making sure Shved gets his confidence back.
“He’s learning,” Saunders said after Wednesday’s scrimmage. “I think the biggest thing is he has to become more vocal. That’s an adjustment when you’re a European player. He’s picking things up, trying to learn both (point guard and shooting guard). He’s been pretty solid. ‘’
Shved said he’s looking forward to playing in Vegas. About to enter his third season, his English has improved and he said he’s ready to be vocal player Saunders wants.
Here are some other nuggets from Thursday’s workout:
--On Wednesday, after scoring 21 points in the open-to-the-public scrimmage, center Kyrylo Fesenko said one of the reasons he accepted an offer to play summer ball with the Wolves was his friendship with Shved. The two know each other from playing in Europe. Thursday Shved made a politically-tinged joke. “He’s Ukrainian, I’m Russian,” he said, referencing the current political climate between those two countries. “We stay together. As players, we are together.”
--Saunders said Shabazz Muhammad has been the hardest worker this week, said the second-year player knows he has to improve on defense and is willing to do what it takes to get there. He also said this: “Today was probably as good a practice as he’s had since he’s been a Timberwolves player,” Saunders said.
--Saunders said second-round draft pick Glen Robinson III won’t be signed to a contract before the team plays in Vegas. The Wolves want to maintain some roster flexibility as they navigate free agency.
--Robinson, meanwhile, admitted the players have been as interested in the anticipation surrounding LeBron James’ impending free agency decision. “We have been fans a little bit,” he said. “We’re watching ESPN, wondering, just like everybody else.”
--Saunders said Chase Budinger, who will travel to Vegas to practice with the team, won’t play in any summer league games. But he said Budinger, trying to come back from two injury-marred seasons, is coming along well. “He’s gotten a lot more confidence in his legs,” Saunders said. “He’s able to shoot the ball better, get the ball above the rim, dunking, doing a lot of things he didn’t do a lot of [last year].”
The Timberwolves have recalled Shabazz Muhammad from the D-League.
Here is the team's release:
The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the club has recalled rookie guard/forward Shabazz Muhammad from the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League.
Muhammad appeared in four games for the Energy, leading Iowa to a 3-1 record while averaging 24.5 points, on 57.1% shooting, and 9.8 rebounds per game. He recorded two double-doubles during the stint, including scoring 26 points and hauling in a game-high 12 rebounds vs. Fort Wayne on Jan. 11.
Muhammad was named to the 2014 NBADLeague.com All-Showcase Team after averaging 23.0 points, on 62.5% shooting, and 9.0 rebounds in two games during the D-League Showcase. He made his D-League debut on Jan. 7, tallying 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting and seven rebounds.
Muhammad, originally selected with the 14th overall pick, was acquired by the Wolves in a draft-day trade with the Utah Jazz. He averaged 17.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last season at UCLA, leading the Bruins to the Pac-12 regular season championship.
Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng arrived in Minnesota today and met the media at Target Center.
Muhammad, the Timberwolves’ top pick in Thursday’s draft, elicited immediate negative reaction from fans, who on chat boards and radio call-ins noted his me-first, shoot-first playing style.
The Wolves, who entered the draft in desperate need of a shooting guard, failed to draft one despite having three first-round picks. Making matters worse, the perception is that Muhammad’s style will be a tough fit in coach Rick Adelman’s passing offense that relies on team play.
New Wolves GM Flip Saunders said Friday that Muhammad and fellow first-round pick Dieng were “winners’’ who he deemed “NBA ready to contribute.’’ Both picks appeared at a Friday press conference.
Muhammad did his best to dispel the critics. Asked if his reputation as a selfish player was something he had to address during pre-draft workouts for teams, Muhammad did not shy away from his past.
“Absolutely,’’ he said. “That’s one thing I’m really working on, figuring it out. It makes life way easlier to be unselfish, for yourself and your teammates. I’m concentrating on that.’’
Muhammad was the 14th overall pick out of UCLA, and Dieng, a center from national champion Louisville, was 21st overall.
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