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.
An update to Wednesday's post on Denver emerging as pursuers in the Kevin Love sweepstakes.
The Boston Herald reported later Wednesday that the Nuggets have offered power forward Kenneth Faried, small forward Wilson Chandler and propose to go out and get Orlando's Arron Afflalo for the Wolves in exchange for their three-time All Star.
According to that report, the Nuggets' 11th overall pick in next week's draft wouldn't be included in the trade, although perhaps that is what Denver would use in order to acquire Afflalo from the Magic.
ESPN's Chad Ford late Wednesday night tweeted that the Wolves, Nuggets, Kings and Warriors all watched Creighton's Doug McDermott and Michigan's Nik Stauskas work out Tuesday in Chicago.
The interesting bit there, of course, is that the Warriors don't have a first-round pick, but the Wolves do, with that 13th overall pick.
As next week's draft approaches, it's looking more and more like Flip Saunders is looking for established players -- perhaps exclusively over draft picks -- in return for Love.
Former Gophers guard Justin Cobbs returned to Minnesota for Saturday's pre-draft workout at Target Center, four years after he transferred after one season spent in the Big Ten.
Cobbs played little during his freshman season for Tubby Smith, then transferred back home to California and played the next three seasons at Cal.
Now he's a 6-3, 195-poind point guard who called himself Saturday all grown up.
He said he'd bring defense and leadership if the Wolves decided to use one of their three second-round picks on him.
"I'm a senior so I'm a leader," he said. "I've been in tough situations before. I've been yelled at before. I've been all around the block, so I've experienced everything. I think I'm ready to take constructive criticism and take it in a positive manner."
He arrived Friday after working out for the Wizards in Washington and is headed back to Las Vegas, his pre-draft base, this afternoon for a few days' rest before hitting the road for more workouts in advance of the June 26 draft.
"It's great to be back," Cobbs said. "A lot of memories here. Just seeing different things, seeing downtown again, seeing Target Center. It's good to be back."
When asked for a NBA comparison, Cobbs said he's some combination of Indiana's George Hill and New Orleans' Jrue Holiday.
Cobbs, 23, was part of a six-man workout Saturday morning that included Michigan State stretch power-forward Adreian Payne and UCLA's Kyle Anderson, a 6-9 player who can play point guard or point forward.
Payne is the first real candidate for the 13th overall pick whom the Wolves have brought to town. Expect them to consider guys like Michigan guard Nic Stauskas, Creighton's Doug McDermott and Kentucky's James Young if any or all of them are still there on draft night.
"I think what a lot of people are looking for and what I'm working on is showing I can hit the three," Payne said. "I think I showed it today."
Asked if he's a little like Kevin Love -- the guy he could replace -- in that way, Payne said, "I really don't watch a lot of basketball, but he is a great player. I'm just trying to get better."
When asked to compare himself to a current NBA player, Payne suggested Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka because Ibaka can stretch defenses with his shooting, blocks shots and defend inside.
That's a pretty good guy to pick.
I think the Wolves would take that.
A bunch of this and that as the Wolves' draft preparations and presumably their coaching search begin to heat up:
* Wolves' brass heads to Chicago Wednesday for the annual pre-draft combine.
They'll be there to interview prospects for their 13th overall pick -- that is, as long as Phoenix doesn't defy the overwhelming odds and leap from 14th into the Top 3 -- in the June draft and watch players willing to do so practice in drills and physical testing.
They'll request interviews with such players as Michigan State's Gary Harris, Michigan's Nic Stauskas, Kentucky's James Young, Creighton's Doug McDermott, Duke's Rodney Hood and others whom they might draft (Harris likely won't be around 13, which might be too early for a player such as Hood) if indeed they keep that 13th pick.
If Phoenix beats the 1 percent odds and jumps into the draft's top 3 at next week's lottery, the Wolves will drop in the draft order from 13 to 14 and thus forfeit this year's pick to the Suns, to whom they own a top-13 protected pick for that short-sighted 2012 trade that sent Wes Johnson to Phoenix.
Top 3 picks Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker won't go to Chicago at all, not even to participate in team interviews or physical testing. That won't affect the Wolves' work, unless, of course, they become unlikely lottery winners next week.
* While in Chicago, maybe Flip Saunders' search for a new head coach might become a little more clear as well now as the league's coaching carousel begins to turn.
According to Yahoo!Sports today, Detroit is closing in on a five-year, $35 million deal with Stan Van Gundy that would have him both coach and run the Pistons' basketball operations.
That would leave Golden State looking for a new frontrunner for its open coaching job after the Warriors aimed for Van Gundy but aren't willing to give him managing duties as well.
Yahoo! also reported that the Warriors management is flying to Oklahoma City today in an attempt to woo TNT analyst Steve Kerr away from Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks' coaching vacancy.
The Lakers, Utah, Cleveland also are looking for a coach as well.
Expect the Wolves' search to wait until next week's lottery -- in the hope that the franchise finally might find some elusive luck and get a Top 3 pick that would change both Kevin Love's feelings about the team's future as well as its coaching prospects.
* The architect for Target Center's remodeling has supplied the first renderings of what the project will look like.
You can see them here.
* Ronny Turiaf and player-development coach Bobby Jackson are headed to Taipei next month to participate in the NBA's Basketball Without Borders Asia camp to be held in Taiwan for the first time.
The top 50 prospects aged 17- and 18-year olds from more than 20 Asian and Oceanic countries will play there. Yao Ming will make a one-day appearance as well.
Also, Wolves center Gorgui Dieng currently is back home in Senegal, where this weekend he's building a community court and holding his own two-day youth camp in Kebemer, a city about 110 miles from the capital Dakar.
* Phoenix today became the 15th of 30 NBA team to reach an exclusive partnership with the 18-team D League when it announced a deal with Bakersfield.
The Wolves are looking for an affiliate after the Iowa Energy made a deal recently with Memphis.
Flip has talked about being part of a "hybrid" D-League -- the kind of deal Phoenix just announced -- arrangement in which the Wolves would pay approximately $300,000-$400,000 to buy the basketball operations while other partners would own the business side. That would allow the Wolves to install their own coaches and executives and run the same offensive and defensive systems that the NBA club runs.
If the Wolves could start or move a D League team to, say, Rochester, Minn., -- where they already have a relationship with Mayo Clinic -- that also would allow them to practice young players with them in the afternoon and still have those players participate in a D League home game that night.
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.
The Timberwolves extended a qualifying offer to Nikola Pekovic, making him a restricted free agent.
The move, a formality, was expected. The Wolves can match any offer made to Pekovic as a result.
The 27-year-old center averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game last season.
Pekovic was the team's 31st overall pick in the 2008 draft.
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