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.

Rubio runs with teammates before tonight's game at Denver

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves injury report, Wolves players, Wolves news Updated: December 26, 2014 - 8:04 PM

A couple quick injury updates now that the Wolves have reconvened from their very brief Christmas break and are about to tip off a three-game Western trip tonight in Denver:

Ricky Rubio ran full court with his teammates today for the first time, participating in some dummy offensive work on that healing sprained ankle at the morning shootaround.

Flip Saunders said Rubio still has a hitch in his gait when he runs, but said he's hopeful Rubio can do some contact work by the New Year, then perhaps can play some limited minutes in games seven to 10 days after that.

Nikola Pekovic has started running on the anti-gravity treadmill -- the machine on which he run without bearing his body weight -- at 50 or 60 percent and will have MRIs done on his wrist and ankle/foot when the team returns home from this trip after playing at Utah on Tuesday.

Saunders said Pekovic likely will go to the D League to play some games when he is ready, but said Rubio will not. The difference: Saunders said Pekovic's injury is a chronic one that will need the benefit of more court time while Rubio's is not. Saunders said the team should have sent Chase Budinger to the D League to get his conditioning and timing down last year with that chronic knee injury.

Reunited: Wiggins, Wolves visit Cavaliers, Kevin Love tonight

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves players, Wolves news Updated: December 23, 2014 - 11:13 AM

Kevin Love had hugs and handshakes all around for some of his old mates when the Timberwolves took the floor here in Cleveland for their morning shoot just after the Cavaliers were finishing up.

He chatted with Flip Saunders, the man who traded him to Cleveland last summer, as well as former teammate Kevin Martin and members of the team's training and media-relations staff before his first game against the team for which he played six NBA seasons.

"It always is a different feel," he said about playing against old friends. "It will probably be even more different when we head back and play them at Target Center."

That game is Jan. 31.

On Monday, Saunders said Minnesotans are a loyal bunch who don't forgive when someone turns on them.

When asked about Wolves fans who'll never forgive him and forget that he forced his way out with that August trade,

"I try to stay off that stuff because negative stuff makes for more than what us people have in common," Love said. "So I try to stay off that stuff. I know when somebody leaves, they more often than not don't want to say good things about him. I think (Saunders) was right in a lot of ways, but at the same time I made a lot of great relationships in the Twin Cities that will carry on throughout my career and post career."

Almost forgotten is a homecoming of sorts for Wolves forward Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, if you can call it that.

Bennett played just one season in Cleveland, Wiggins was a Cav for barely a month, two months if you count that 30-day waiting period to announce the trade.

"It was a long 30 days, just waiting for the decision," Wiggins said. "No hate or nothing like that...I'm excited, more excited than usual."

If you haven't seen it yet, I've been in Cleveland since Saturday working on a Love story that ran in today's paper. You can find it here.

Saunders unhappy with team's effort

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wolves postgame Updated: December 21, 2014 - 9:49 PM

Greetings for a final time from Target Center tonight.

The Wolves just lost a game they probably should have one. Both teams had just one December win to their credit when this thing started, and the Pacers were playing after having played in Denver Saturday night. And yet it was the Wolves that stumbled out of the gate with no energy. After the game coach Flip Saunders again questioned his team’s sense of urgency and postulated that his young players might be getting too complacent.

It won't be any easier Tuesday in Cleveland.

Here are some thoughts on the game:

--Shabazz Muhammad might have started off struggling with his shot, but he continued to work hard. And he was the reason the team was able to come back and make it a game in the second half. Before the game Saunders talked about how other teams are now focusing on stopping Muhammad, and yet he continues to score, in double figures with 21 points tonight.

--Just when you think Chase Budinger is rounding back into pre-injury shape…. He was 6-for-10 tonight for 13 points. Yes. But he also threw up two airballs late.

--Gorgui Dieng played better as the game wore on, but he struggling keeping Roy Hibbert out of the paint to start the game.

--What an up-and-down game for Zach LaVine. He plays half of the first quarter like he’s half asleep and gets benched. Then he comes out and scores nine third-quarter points, with two assists and a steal.

That’s about it for tonight. Have a great holiday season.

Wolves trade Brewer to Houston for Daniels, picks

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves pre-game, Wolves trade talk, Wolves news Updated: December 19, 2014 - 2:53 PM

The Wolves have traded veteran forward Corey Brewer to the contending Houston Rockets, a league source confirms.

Injured veteran center Ronny Turiaf is headed out in the trade as well. In return, the Wolves will receive young, sharp-shooting guard Troy Daniels and draft picks, as in plural.

They'll get Sacramento's 2015 second-rounder as long as it doesn't fall within picks 50-60 and Houston's own second rounder in 2016.

"Kind of mixed emotions just because I really love Minnesota," Brewer said this afternoon. "People don't understand how much I love Minnesota. I wanted to end my career here. That's why I signed back here. I thoguht it'd be possible, but I understand we're going young. It's going to be a few years, but the Wolves have great, young talent."

The trade reunites Brewer with Rockets coach Kevin McHale, the guy who drafted him seventh overall in 2007 and coached him for four-plus months to end the 2008-09 season.

"To get traded to a team where the guy who's coaching you is the guy who drafted you with the seventh pick, that's my guy, I love Mac," Brewer said.

Brewer noted other connections: Rockets assistant J.B. Bickerstaff worked him out in Minnesota pre-draft 2007, assistant Greg Buckner was a veteran on the team Brewer's rookie year and T.R. Dunn was an assistant with the Wolves last season.

The trade also gives Brewer a legitimate chance to win a title.

"A great situation, it's going to be great," Brewer said. "Playing with guys like Dwight Howard and James Harden, they're in a playoff race. They have a good team. I think I can come in and help that. That they wanted to trade for me and think I can help, that means a lot."

Brewer won a title as a limited role player in 2011.

"I've got lots of room for more rings," he said. "Last time I went to Texas, it worked out. Make it 2-for-2 in Texas, the Texas Two-Step."

He said Harden and other Rockets were recruiting him to come over to their side before a game at Target Center earlier this month.

Brewer was trying to make travel plans to join the Rockets when I spoke to him by phone this afternoon.

"I don't even know who I got traded for," he said.

Daniels, 23, is a 6-4 shooting guard whom a former Rockets coach calls the best pure shooter he has ever seen.

Undrafted out of VCU, he was cut by Charlotte at the end of training camp a year ago and signed a multi-year deall with Houston last February. He hit a go-ahead shot late in Game 3 of a playoff series against Portland last month.

Daniels has averaged just 6.4 minutes in 17 games this season, probably partly because of the Rockets' depth and partly because of his defense.

The trade also opens up a starting spot and more playing time presumably for hard-playing Shabazz Muhammad on the wing.

YahooSports' Adrian Wojnarnowski first reported the trade.

Mo Williams will play on despite back pain

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves injury report, Wolves pre-game, Wolves news Updated: December 19, 2014 - 12:32 PM

Wolves veteran guard Mo Williams returned relieved from a one-day visit back home to Dallas for a second opinion on his hurting back and an early birthday party.

Williams turns 32 today with peace of mind that his back pain that caused him to miss six consecutive games recently is deemed only muscular.

"Strains and spasms, something that's manageable," he said at shootaround before tonight's game at Boston. "This is my first time I ever hurt my back. The last thing I wanted was to go about it like it's muscular and then find out it's something serious. This is something that, at this point in my career, was a fear in me. I want to make sure I'm 100 percent."

Williams said he'll continue to navigate what he calls a "gray area" between resting his back and rehab work.

"I'll play through it," he said. "Obviously, rest would be great. But I want to play."

Besides peace of mind, Williams also got from his quick Dallas trip the chance to see his family and celebrate his birthday a day early.

Flip Saunders called Williams a "game-time decision" but he participated in shootaround this morning so I'm guessing he plays some.

We'll see how Williams' uncertain future for now influences Saunders' decisions in the coming days and weeks. Forward Jeff Adrien's hardship roster exception is about up and the Wolves need another point guard while Williams is slowed by that back, especially if Saunders trade Corey Brewer.

Those trade rumors have percoloated again on and elsewhere in the last day or two. Marc Stein suggested the Wolves are nearing a deal with Houston. Last I heard this morning is that three or four teams -- the Rockets, Cavaliers, Clippers and Heat -- all continue to troll for Brewer.

I'm pretty sure Saunders has been seeking a first-round pick in return, which is why nothing has happened so far. The Rockets have New York's second-round pick -- a high second-round pick almost certainly -- they'd trade.

The Wolves could include Ronny Turiaf's expiring contract in any deal. The Rockets probably are willing to

We'll see if Flip holds out for what he wants. Brewer was at shootaround this morning, so at least check he's still here.

The Rockets also have young guards Isaiah Canaan and Troy Daniels and could include one of the two in a deal. New Orleans today waived point guard Gal Mekel, who would be another option as is D League guard Brady Heslip.

The Wolves will play a Celtics team that traded away last night star guard Rajon Rondo to Dallas.

When told the Wolves might be catching a break by playing an undermanned opponent tonight, Williams said, "Well, they are, too."


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