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.
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 ESPN.com and elsewhere in the last day or two. ESPN.com 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."
Wolves veteran center Ronny Turiaf underwent "successful" arthroscopic surgery today in New York City to repair that hip injury that has kept him out for all but two games so far and will be sidelined for the rest of the season.
Expect that in time to lead to his release so the Wolves can sign another player to add to their injury-depleted roster.
Also, Ricky Rubio is on the trip and looks like he's made some good progress with that healing ankle.
Turiaf's contract -- with a $1.6 million salary -- expires after this season. Flip Saunders said this morning the team would waive Turiaf and pay him his remaining owed money "if there's the right person available."
That could be just keeping around forward Jeff Adrien, whose current 10-day roster exception spot runs through Friday. Or it could be a guard such as D League sharpshooter Brady Heslip, who was with the Wolves in training camp.
In a perfect world, that new player would be a versatile defender who can shoot.
They likely won't release Turiaf at least until Adrien's exception expires. Or they could wait to do until 10-day contracts can be signed until January, although that's some time to wait for a team that needs help now.
"It doesn't mean we'll disassociate ourselves from him," Saunders said about Turiaf. "We'd do it just for the survival of everybody else."
Saunders said Rubio's timeline has "sped up a little bit" recently, since Saunders a week ago said Rubio would be out another four to five weeks.
Rubio has advanced from running on the "anti-gravity" treadmill -- a machine that allows exercise without putting weight on the knees and ankles -- to running and shooting on his own. He's getting some jump into his jump shot.
Saunders said he's hopeful that Rubio by Christmas -- just a week away basically -- can practice in some 5-on-0 work offensively even if he's not facing live action by then.
"He thinks he can play Christmas Day," Saunders said. "But that's not going to happen."
Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic all on this trip to Washington and Boston.
"It's good to keep guys around the team, keep the other guys locked in," Saunders said. "We have so many young guys. They need to have some veterans around, just for leadership, because this is a tough time."
Yes, this is the Oklahoma City Thunder team you know, not the imposters who started the season 3-12 while both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were out.
Both players are back, and were in plenty of time to face the Timberwolves tonight at Target Center.
The Thunder has won four consecutive games since Durant returned five games ago and both players tonight will be playing in the second part of back-to-back games for the first time this season, another step in their recovery from injury.
Durant will be limited to 30 minutes tonight, or so Scott Brooks and the Thunder say.
The Thunder beat a LeBron-less Cleveland team last night at home, so this is the same situation as Wednesday's Wolves' victory over Portland. The Blazers, too, were playing the second half of back-to-back games that night.
The Wolves, meanwhile, tonight will play on without Mo Williams, who will miss his fifth consecutive game because of back spasms. Shabazz Muhammad is expected to play despite that ankle that has pained him for more than a week.
One other tidbit: Flip Saunders said before tonight's game that Ricky Rubio has moved on to the next part of his rehab by getting on the anti-gravity treadmill that allows him to walk and run without putting weight on his legs and healing ankle.
It doesn't get much easier for the Timberwolves, who tonight complete two games in which their opponents arrived at Target Center a combined 26-1.
Golden State brought a 12-game winning streak to town Monday and then made it 13 straight. Portland arrives tonight 14-1 in their last 15 games.
"I don't think I've seen anything like that before," Wolves coach Flip Saunders.
The Wolves will play again without former Blazer and veteran point guard Mo Williams, who'll miss his fourth consecutive game because of back spasms.
Saunders said before tonight's game that Shabazz Muhammad probably wouldn't have been playing this past week because of a hurting ankle but the already injury-depleted Wolves need him so badly, he continues to play on.
Saunders said Muhammad has received acupuncture treatments in an attempt to get the ankle feeling better.
Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin and Ronny Turiaf all remain out as well, of course.
The Wolves, btw, on Tuesday requested and received another 10-day roster exception for forward Jeff Adrien.
Saunders said he considered adding a point guard to help out rookie Zach LaVine there, but figures Corey Brewer is a serviceable, if not ideal, backup to LaVine and was worried where the Wolves will be if something should happen to starting center Gorgui Dieng.
If Dieng were to get injured, Saunders said the Wolves would have no other real options there, so that's what they kept Adrien on for another 10 days.
Mo Williams will miss his third consecutive game tonight against Golden State at Target Center because of back spasms, which means perhaps another 40-minute plus game from rookie Zach LaVine.
Shabazz Muhammad said after this morning's shootaround that he was headed next door to get a MRI on his hurting and swollen ankle but said, barring anything unforesee, he expects to play with the pain tonight against a 17-2 Warriors team that owns the NBA's best record.
"It feels good, it's still sore but we're down some guys, I'll be fine," he said. "I'm a pretty tough guy. I'll play through it and see how it works out tonight."
Of course, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic and Ronny Turiaf also all remain out, although I saw Ricky shooting three-pointers with no crutches or walking boot after the morning shootaround today.
Without Williams, the Wolves will rely on LaVine as their iron-man starter and Corey Brewer as the makeshift backup point guard.
The Warriors arrive with a 12-game winning streak and that league-best record.
I guess with that 17-2 record it's a good thing they decided not to include Klay Thompson in a deal for Kevin Love last summer, huh?
"Apparently," new Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
|Vikings (12)||Wolves news (1020)|
|Bears (2)||Lions (1)|
|Packers (3)||Super Bowl (2)|
|Injury report (2)||On the road (54)|
|Rookies (35)||Roster moves (3)|
|Vikings draft (41)||Vikings trade talk (2)|
|NBA playoffs (1)||Wolves coaches (80)|
|Wolves draft news (58)||Wolves guards (45)|
|Wolves injury report (362)||Wolves management (142)|
|Wolves players (554)||Wolves postgame (297)|
|Wolves practice news (170)||Wolves pre-game (414)|
|Wolves trade talk (87)||Wolves training camp (63)|
|Adrian Peterson (3)||Sidney Rice (2)|