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.
Cleveland officially, finally signed No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins this afternoon to a rookie contract that will pay him about $5.5 million this coming season.
That's the clock counting down on the next 30 days, the time both the Cavs and the Timberwolves must wait before Wiggins can be traded.
The Wolves need to wait though that period because they need Wiggins' $5.5 million salary to make any Kevin Love trade work under the NBA's salary-cap rules.
Until this afternoon, Wiggins held no value in a trade of a salaries.
Now, you can put his $5.5 million salary with 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett's similar salary, add one, two or all three of those non-guaranteerd contracts the Cavs acquired from Utah the other day and...now you're talking deal.
You'll continue to hear all kinds of rumors until Aug. 23 -- the end of the 30 days -- including probably many reports that the teams have reached a deal.
I doubt such a deal will be reached until near the end of those 30 days because nothing's binding until then. The parameters of a deal -- Love for Wiggins, Bennett and one of Cavs' future first-round pick probably -- likely has been discussed between the teams, but if the Wolves agreed now they'd be taking teams like Chicago and Golden State out of the picture.
The more teams interested, the better the Wolves' leverage. For now.
It also gives the Wolves more time to seek a third team from whom they could buy cap space to take the contracts of J.J. Barea and/or Alexey Shved.
In case you missed it from last night's story on the website:
The Wolves are bringing back forward Robbie Hummel for a second season. The two sides reached agreement Monday on a one-year minimum guaranteed contract on the same day free agent Evan Turner chose Boston over the Wolves' pursuit.
Here's the story from our web site from last night.
Readers have commented on that story, speculating that Hummel was signed to include in a trade.
The trouble with that theory is he can't be traded now until December 15 at the earliest, I believe.
Hummel gives the Wolves another player along with veteran Luc Mbah a Moute who can play some power forward, particularly in Kevin Love is traded away.
He also gives the Wolves' 14 guaranteed contracts now. That leaves one open slot for a 2-for-1 trade involving Love and, oh, say Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett.
Those discussions between the Wolves and Cavaliers appear to be progressing. Yahoo!Sports today reported that the Cavaliers are searching the league for non-guaranteed contracts to make a bigger Love trade work.
We're a week away from next Thursday night's NBA draft and that Kevin Love trade talk is heating up.
One day after we learned Denver is in pursuit, former Gophers star Mychal Thompson on L.A. radio station ESPN 710 Thursday said he has inside information from up in Oakland that the Warriors are close to trading his son Klay to the Wolves along with David Lee and a future first-round pick to the Wolves for their two Kevins, Love and Martin.
Later off the air, Thompson told a Bay Area reporter his source was someone from ESPN.
ESPN's Marc Stein, who's based in Dallas not in Oakland, cited sources as saying the Warriors indeed now are willing to include Klay Thompson in a trade.
ESPN's Chris Broussard then added in a tweet that the trade possibly could be Love, Kevin Martin, J.J. Barea and the Wolves' 13th pick for Thompson and Lee.
Again, it's more anonymously sourced chatter but you can see where this is going: The Warriors always have, in my book, been among the favorites, probably the favorite, because they have the assets if they were willing to include Klay Thompson, they satisfy Love's desire to go to a place where he can win now, their owner is highly motivated and Love would likely re-sign there.
I don't think Thompson being suddenly available is new. I think the Warriors always have known he'll have to be part of the deal if they want Love.
That said, Thompson and Lee likely isn't enough in return for Love. Taking back Kevin Martin's three years and $21 million remaining on his contract helps, but taking on Lee's two years' left at $15 million per isn't any favor the Warriors are doing the Wolves. You can bet Flip Saunders is saying, OK, he'll take Lee back but he'll want a third piece, either Harrison Barnes or Draymond Green.
Flip told me pretty flat-out today that he's not trading his 13th overall pick, and seemed taken aback a bit when I asked him about it.
It's a dance and there still is seven days before draft night. And with a draft like this where likely no draft picks will be involved, there's no reason this has to, or will, get done by draft night.
In revealing a trade prosposal he said believes will happen, Mychal Thompson on his radio show said at first he was "too depressed" to talk about it and then added that he'd have to talk his son "down off the ledge" if the trade comes to be because Klay was looking forward to playing alongside Love in Oakland.
"It's going to cost my son a chance to play with his former childhood playmate," said Mychal Thompson, who added his son and Love played together as youngsters. "It's disappointing because Klay and I have been talking about this all summer, the possibility of this happening, him and Kevin being on the same team along with Steph Curry. He was really looking forward to that. He thought if you added Love to the Splash Brothers (Curry and Thompson) with Bogut and Iguodala and you tweak the bench, they had a chance to the West final next year. That was what he was really pumped up about."
Don't forget that Thompson played with Flip with the Gophers and Klay Thompson's agent, Bill Duffy, was a college pal of both Saunders and Kevin McHale.
"Flip Saunders is a good coach," Mychal Thompson said. :I like him as a human being. He's a good guy. He was my teammate. I like Minnesota, it's great, except for the winters. You've got to look at the positives for Klay if this deal goes through. You get to play with Ricky Rubio, who's one of the best passers in the game. You're playing for a good coach in Flip Saunders. He'll take a step back career-wise as far as the playoffs are concerned."
One other thing not to forget: Thompson is due to get paid. He's eligible to sign a contract extension starting July 1 and will be a restricted free agent next summer if he doesn't reach agreement on a new contract by October's end.
You can expect Duffy to push for a max deal for his client -- not saying he'll come near to getting one, but he'll surely try -- and I'm sure the Warriors know they must prioritize their payroll. They're already paying Bogut, Lee, Iguodala and Curry all nearly $10 million each or more a year.
There's just eight days left until draft night and if you think the speculation is heating up now, just wait.
The Boston Celtics are frontrunners to acquire Kevin Love.
Or no, they're not.
Both opinions have swept the Internet yet today already.
ESPN's Chad Ford and Bill Simmons each maintained the Celtics are the favorites to get Love.
Ford said a good source in Minnesota told him the Celtics have made the best offer for Love and Simmons tweeted this morning that the Cetlics are the "heavy favs" because Golden State won't offer Klay Thompson and Chicago is focused on getting Carmelo Anthony, not Love.
Each man got Celtics fans all fired up on Twitter and chat pages before the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett tempered the enthusiasm, citing sources that say the Celtics' offer of the draft picks Nos. 6 and 17 as well as Jared Sullinger and/or Kelly Olynyk and future first-round pick(s)isn't nearly the best the Wolves have received or expert to receive.
I'll go with my guy Bulpett on this one.
You can read his report here. In it, Bulpett says a source told him Flip Saunders believes he can get as good a prospect later in the draft -- the Wolves have the 13th overall pick and will be offered higher picks in trade discussions -- as can be had with that No. 6 overall pick.
The Herald report said Golden State and Denver each have made more "intriguing" offers already. You also can expect the haggling won't get really serious until next week as the Thursday night draft approaches..
The Denver mention is new, so apparently add them to a listen that includes Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Phoenix, Sacramento, Houston and probably many others.
The Warriors, of course, have Klay Thompson to offer, but the big question is whether they're willing to include Thompson as well as another piece (Harrison Barnes perhaps?) and if the Wolves are willing to take back David Lee's big contract when crunch time comes.
If a Wolves source told Ford the Celtics are the frontrunner, he probably was lied to, if you believe such things happen at this time of year.
I don't believe the Celtics are the frontrunners because I think Saunders would much rather have young established players with a known NBA record rather than trade away his All Star for the hope of multiple draft picks, unless one of those is a top-three pick.
What would the Nuggets have to offer? The Boston Herald reported power forward Kenneth Faried, forward Wilson Chandler and could acquire Orlando's Arron Afflalo for them in a deal that would not include the Nuggets' No. 11 overall pick.
The question with the Nuggets is would Love re-sign there long term. Sacramento apparently is willing to deal without an assurance that Love will stay there long term. Maybe the Nuggets are willing, too.
I still make the Warriors the favorites in this derby, but don't sleep on Cleveland if the Cavs indeed offer up the No..1 overall pick.
And don't discount the chance that Flip will hold onto Love until later in the summer or until next February's trade deadline, no matter how awkward that could make next season if Love pouts because he doesn't want to be here.
I believe Flip is sincere when he says he won't trade Love just to trade him.
One other tidbit before I go:
Former Sacramento and Golden State coach Eric Musselman on Tuesday accepted an assistant's job with LSU after he had some discussions with Saunders about an assistant's job here.
With Sam Mitchell, Sidney Lowe and Ryan Saunders set for jobs here, that might leave just one spot left. David Adelman has one year left on his contract and will be part of the picture somehow, whether it's as a full bench assistant or not I'm not yet sure. It wouldn't surprise me to see Chauncey Billups added along the way if he decides to retire and doesn't pursue a front-office job.
Timberwolves star Kevin Love said today he hasn’t told the team he will opt out of his contract in summer 2015 and sign elsewhere, as a series of Internet Tweets reported after Wednesday’s 104-91 home victory over Indiana.
Love told reporters this after practice today: “We laughed about it today. It’s a media-driven story. For the past couple years, I can’t believe some of the stuff that has come out. We went out and played hard last night, great performance as a team. To see some stuff like that is just kind of disheartening.”
Love spoke with the media this afternoon, just before the NBA’s trade deadline came and went without the Wolves making a deal.
That means Love is still a Timberwolf and one who’s about to play more center now that backup center Ronny Turiaf is hurting, too. He sustained a bone bruise on his right knee in the fourth quarter and is out indefinitely, the team said today.
Longtime NBA columnist and commentator Peter Vecsey in a series of unsourced tweets Wednesday night said Love told Wolves boss Flip Saunders before the All-Star break that he has decided to play elsewhere when he can escape a four-year contract a year early in July 2015. He said expect Love to be traded by Thursday’s trade deadline or in this upcoming off-season and said Love wants to play only for teams with a winning culture and mentioned Boston and Chicago as possible teams that would have assets to trade for Love and that would fit his criteria.
Saunders called the report “false” in a tweet that responded to Vecsey’s tweets just after the Wolves beat the Pacers.
Love said he and Flip laughed about the report, but Love did confirm part of Saunders' tweet sent out Wednesday night. Saunders said the last conversation he had with Love was about Love telling him how bad his sport coat was.
"I did say that," Love said. "Anyone who saw him, it was pretty bad."
Love told GQ magazine in an interview released this week that he’s having “fun” in Minnesota and that the Wolves are better positioned to win than the Los Angeles Lakers, the team so many assume he will sign with in 2015.
“Basically all I said is our foundation and our team is better than a lot of teams that you guys and Peter Vecsey and whoever the hell else says I’m going to,” Love said.
Speculation about his future will continue until Love either opts out in July 2015 and re-signs with the Wolves or another team or until the team trades before that.
“It comes with the territory,” Love said. “I just don’t want to talk about it. It takes away from the team. It takes away from what Coach is trying to do. At the end of the day, I just want to play basketball. I don’t want to think about whether I’m going to be here or somewhere else in 2015, 2016 or whatever it is.”
When Wolves coach Rick Adelman was asked Love requesting a trade, he said, “Really? C’mon? You know, he got 42 points last night and we won the game. Some of this stuff comes out of nowhere. That’s so far in the future, I don’t even worry about that. I just worry about the fact, it didn’t look like he was going anywhere last night and that’s the direction I wanted. In this world today: `What’s LeBron going to do next year? What’s Carmelo going to do next year?’ Who cares? It’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. In Kevin’s situation, he’s here with us. I’m glad as the coach that he is with us. I’ve never heard anything about that. He certainly hasn’t said anything to me, so I don’t dwell on that.”
The Wolves leave Friday for a five-game Western trip in which Adelman will have to cobble together a lineup at center now that Turiaf is out and Nikola Pekovic still hasn’t yet returned.
Pekovic participated in drills and other court work during Thursday’s semi-practice and is expected to do more on Friday, Adelman said. But Adelman said Pekovic’s return remains unknown and indicated it isn’t imminent.
“I welcome it as long as I’m not taking any more shots to anywhere on my body,” Love said about playing more at center. “It’s another thing that comes with the territory. We pray that guys come back as soon as possible.”
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