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.
David Kahn just sent me a text after I called him seeking comment on today's NBA.com report that Glen Taylor is negotiating a five-year deal with Flip Saunders to replace Kahn as president of basketball operations.
This is what the text said:
"First, I wake up every day knowing it's a privilege to have this job, and not a right. Speculation about our jobs is part of this business, especially when you strip the emotion out of it. Speculation is especially understandable now, as we have a deep and talented team, with several cornerstone players, and will be poised for big success once it regains its health.
"Glen and I have an understanding that we will meet at an appropriate time to discuss my contractual status, but only after we have clarification on Coach Adelman's status and Glen has all the information he needs. It is no different than when we make decisions on players who have options. We wait for the process to unfold. In the meantime, Glen and I have been having conversations about the staff, free agency and other plans.
We had three players, including Ricky Rubio, begin their offseason conditioning and basketball drills in Minneapolis last week, two days after the season ended. That kind of hard work and dedication is why we'll be a special team."
NBA.com's Steve Aschburner is reporting this morning that Glen Taylor has decided to replace David Kahn with Flip Saunders as Timberwolves president of basketball operations.
It follows speculation that has been out there for more than a month, or all the way back to last summer when there was talk in the league winds that Flip was part of a group pursuing buying the team from Taylor with the expectation that Saunders would run the basketball ops.
Still working to confirm it -- nobody in the Wolves organization seems to know the decision has been made -- but given Asch's history with Flip, Taylor and the Wolves for more than a decade as the Strib's beat writer and given NBA.com's obvious ties to the league, no reason to believe it's not true.
Especially when such specifics as a five-year, $9 million contract are mentioned.
Saunders was asked about it on ESPN's SportsCenter -- he's been doing NBA commentary work for the network this winter and into the playoffs -- this afternoon, after a network spokesman said Saunders called the report "premature."
Saunders said he has had a "great" relationship with Taylor for the last 20 years.
"Right now, what develops, we'll have to wait and see," he said. "But right now there's nothing developing down the road."
When -- or if -- it officially happens, two questions to be answered:
* Does this mean there's an answer, too, on Rick Adelman's future?
* Does it mean Saunders indeed is part of a group that will buy the team?
On the first part...
I wouldn't conclude it absolutely means Adelman has decided he won't be back.
The June draft is fast approaching and the Wolves have two first-round picks, so if Taylor is going to make a move, there's no time to dawdle getting a new regime in place.
I'm sure Taylor has had discussions with both Saunders and Adelman about whether, or how, the two would work together.
On the second part...unless something has changed in the last two weeks, I don't have indication that's in the works. Taylor said before the season ended that he hasn't found a suitable buyer that will keep the team in Minnesota, so he planned to continue owning the team but would look for new partners to replace those exsiting ones who want out.
The NBA get its after-season draft bookkeeping today, conducting blind draws for teams that finished with identical records.
Memphis lost a draw with the L.A. Clippers to see who'd get the Nos. 25 and 26 picks in the June 27 draft, which meant the Wolves, of course, lost that blind draw.
They'll get the Grizzlies' No. 26 pick in the draft.
They're also currently slotted to draft ninth overall, depending on the results of the May 21 lottery.
They have a 1.7 percent chance of winning the No. 1 overall and could also pick second or third if they defy the odds and get one of the first three picks in the lottery.
Or they could very well could draft 10th -- or 11th or 12th, too, if you think they're really, really lottery cursed -- as well.
If they stay at No. 9, here's a list of picks at that spot since the Wolves entered the league in 1989: Tom Hammonds, Willie Burton, Stacey Augmon, Clarence Witherspoon, Rodney Rogers, Eric Montross, Ed OBannon, Samaki Walker, Tracy McGrady, Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Joel Przybilla, Rodney White, Amare, Mike Sweetney, Andre Iguodala, Ike Diogu, Patrick O'Bryant, Joakim Noah, D.J. Augustin, DeMar DeRozan, Gordon Hayward, Kemba Walker and Andre Drummond.
The Wolves also own two second-round picks: the 52nd (Brooklyn's selection via New Orleans) and 59th (Oklahoma City's selection.)
Guess you can include Ricky Rubio among the list of players whose method of busting out of slumps is to keep shooting.
Rubio entered Saturday’s game with Phoenix at Target Center having shot 10-for-48 in his last five games, Rubio came out and took a career-high 18 shots. He made eight of them. That plus a 7-for-7 performance from the free throw line gave him a career-high 24 points in the Wolves’ 12-point victory.
“It’s a lot,” Rubio said of his shots. “But without (Kevin) Love and (Nikola Pekovic), there are a lot of shots to take, and I’m going to take them.”
Rubio knows how to end a slump in style. His 24-point, 10-assist, five-steal, five-rebound performance gave him his seventh 4x5 game of the season, tying him with LeBron James (2004-05) and Chris Paul (2008-09) for the most in a single season over the last 15 years.
More? It was Rubio’s 13th double-double of the season and his 15th game with 10 or more assists.
More? Rubio became the fourth player this year and just the third in Wolves history to college 20 or more points, 10 or more assists, and five or more steals and rebounds in a game. The others who have done it this season? Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Monta Ellis (twice).
Here are some other thoughts on the game:
--When J.J. Barea is on, he can be one pesky little player. He scored 16 points – nine in the second half – on 7-for-9 shooting, and it was his five points at the start of the fourth quarter that helped give the Wolves a comfortable lead.
--Once again Derrick Williams was rewarded with strong play by sitting on the bench. He scored eight points and had four rebounds in 10 minutes of play in the third quarter – he and Luke Ridnour helped push the Wolves out of their lethargy – but he didn’t play a minute in the fourth quarter.
--Talk about a second-half turnaround. Barea said coach Rick Adelman had some strong halftime words. The Wolves responded by out-scoring Phoenix 55-40 in the second half, out-rebounding the Suns 21-10 and forcing 14 Suns turnovers in the second half.
--All five Wolves starters were in double figures, and those five players shot 30-for-59.
--The Wolves tied a franchise high with 17 steals and six of the nine Wolves players who saw action had at least two. Williams had four.
That’s about all for now. Jerry will be covering Monday’s game.
Nikola Pekovic was scratched from tonight's game at Utah because of a calf contusion and was replaced in the starting lineup by backup Greg Stiemsma.
Dante Cunningham warmed up before tonight's game and said he's ready to play after missing Wednesday's game against the Clippers in Los Angeles.
That will keep Rick Adelman from playing Derrick Williams 36 straight minutes as he did in L.A. until sitting Williams and three other starters for the entire fourth quarter because the game was a blowout.
The Jazz have three games left -- two of them against the Wolves, including Monday at Target Center -- and are chasing the Lakers for the West's eighth and final playoff from a game behind.
The Lakers play their final three games all at home.
|Vikings (12)||Wolves news (802)|
|Bears (1)||Packers (3)|
|Super Bowl (2)||Injury report (1)|
|On the road (45)||Rookies (25)|
|Roster moves (3)||The draft (40)|
|Trade talk (2)||NBA playoffs (1)|
|Wolves coaches (67)||Wolves draft news (42)|
|Wolves guards (40)||Wolves injury report (293)|
|Wolves management (105)||Wolves players (413)|
|Wolves postgame (263)||Wolves practice news (130)|
|Wolves pre-game (285)||Wolves trade talk (70)|
|Wolves training camp (40)||Adrian Peterson (3)|
|Sidney Rice (2)|