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.

Posts about Wolves news

Say hello to the newest Timberwolves

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: June 27, 2014 - 3:01 PM

The Wolves today introduced newly drafted UCLA guard Zach LaVine and Michigan forward Glenn Robinson III at a Target Center news conference with basketball boss Flip Saunders.

Some highlights and impressions:

* LaVine reaction on draft night -- and that uttered expletive after he hid his face in his arms -- continued to generate buzz Friday from all the social-media angst expressed by Wolves fans the night before.

"You know, getting drafted in the NBA was something I've always dreamed of since I was a little kid so to tell you the truth when my name got called, I lost it," he said. "I put my head down, thanked God and from there I just lost it. I'm a very emotional person. I didn't mean any disrespect to anyone. I'm the most excited person. It was almost like in disbelief that I said that I think. I felt bad. OK, that's not the best first impression. Hopefully I can make that up.

"I just want to let you guys know I'm the most excited person in the world to be part of this organization. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm going to put my whole heart into this organization."

* Flip said he woke up Friday morning feeling better about the Wolves organization and where it's headed than he ever has since being hired in May 2013, in good part due to the two young players sitting beside him.

He said he also woke up feeling old because 10 years ago he coached Kevin Garnett on how to stop Glenn Robinson II -- the NBA's 1994 No. 1 overall draft pick and Glenn Robinson III's dad -- and now he's coaching the Big Dog's kid.

* Robinson will wear No. 22 and LaVine No. 8.

LaVine picked his number as an homage to idol Kobe Bryant and because Nikola Pekovic already wears No. 14, his college number.

"I'm not going to fight him over that number," LaVine said. "That dude is huge. He takes up a whole locker."

* The two new rookies worked out together for the Bulls recently, the first time they really got to know and play with each other.

After Robinson discussed the experience and praised him, LaVine turned and said, "Thanks, bro."

* It was clear from the way Flip talked that he drafted both players, but particularly LaVine, believing he can work and develop him the way he did with Kevin Garnett, Stephon Marbury and John Wall.

* When asked about LaVine's basketball IQ and ability to learn and adapt to the NBA's complext offenses, Flip said, "That's up to the coach."

Of course, Flip's the same guy who drafted and who will coach LaVine.

* Unlike last year, Flip said he doesn't expect to be active when the NBA's free agency period begins Tuesday. A year ago, he flew to California to meet with J.J. Redick, O.J. Mayo and others. Now he says things will be quieter because the Wolves already have 14 of 15 roster spots filled, even though they still will have a nearly $6 million mid-level exception slot to use if they decide to do so.

* Flip defended selling two second-round picks -- see a story forthcoming that I'll write for Saturday's paper -- and said European prospects Nemanja Bjelica and Bogan Dubljevic both are on career arcs headed to the NBA but are at least a year away.

He said that's because both probably will command bigger salaries and want more playing time than the Wolves currently can give.

NBA draft night is here: Is Kevin Love gone from Minnesota?

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: June 26, 2014 - 5:14 PM

Just checking in from Target Center here tonight with the NBA draft set to start from Brooklyn at 6:30 p.m. our time.

The Wolves continue to talk a Kevin Love trade with a number of teams -- foremost still Golden State -- but I'd say it's less than 50-50, probably 35-65 if I had to make odds.

I have no idea what tonight will bring, but I'm guessing it'll either be quite boring with the Wolves taking UCLA's Zach LaVine or Michigan State's Adreian Payne or Gary Harris (unless Creighton's Doug McDermott or Michigan's Nik Stauskas drop).

Or all hell's going to break loose with a Love trade and more.

There's been plenty of back-and-forth with the Warriors, at this stage I believe it's much more haggling over what other pieces will be included -- Harrison Barnes? The Warriors' first-round pick next summer? The Wolves' 13th pick -- than it is whether Klay Thompson is part of the trade.

Ric Bucher out in the Bay Area reported late last night that Wolves owner Glen Taylor and Warriors owner Joe Lacob talked Wednesday about the trade.

Remember Love came here in a 2008 draft-night trade -- a very late at night trade, I might add -- after Taylor got on the phone with Memphis owner Michael Heisley and hammered out the deal.

Maybe history repeats itself tonight?

Perhaps, but don't hold your breath.

My colleague will be on here with an update after the Wolves' first pick is made. As long as they stay at the 13th spot, that pick should come about 7:30-7:40 our time.

Catching up with Flip: A conversation about this and that

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: June 20, 2014 - 12:16 PM

I sat down with Flip Saunders on Thursday afternoon to do reporting for my Sunday draft preview story and pieces that will run next week leading up to next Thursday's draft.

I'm saving all the Kevin Love and draft-specific stuff until then, but here's a bunch of this and that from our conversation:

* I asked him if he's going to need to move players other than Love because, with players still to be added through a Love trade and the draft, of a surplus of players at, say, small forward.

"It depends," he said. "Is Luc Mbah a Moute a small forward or a power forward? The other small forward basically are '2' guards: Corey, Bud, Shabazz, Kevin Martin and then Luc slides over (to power forward). You look at Alexey. He can probably play both (guard spots) and you have the two point guards. I don't think our roster is overly unbalanced now. We've got three guys who are basically centers."

* He said he envisions centers Gorgui Dieng and Ronny Turiaf both playing some at power forward and said he thinks Nikola Pekovic and Dieng can play together some, with Pek at center and Dieng mobile enough to defend out on the floor at the power-forward spot.

"I think you can play them (together),' he said. "I think that's probably something we've work on a lot this summer, to see Gorgui's ability to play out on the floor a little bit more. I always say what position you are is who you can guard and I think he can guard 4s."

* Saunders said he expects Dieng, Shved and Muhammad to play at Vegas Summer League next month. He also wants Chase Budinger to come to Minneapolis for three days of practice before and possibly even play a couple games in Vegas so Saunders and his staff can see how Budinger's knee rehab is going.

"We've had a long talk about things," Saunders said. "As I told him, we probably did him an injustice. Everyone was so anxious to get him back (from October knee surgery, his second in 11 months), Rick wanted him back. We probably should have put him in the D League for a couple weeks because what happens is, he came back and the other team was running the 220 (yard) sprint) and got around to the 110 (mark) and Chase was at a standstill. They went by him and he could never catch 'em. We needed to put him where he could get his confidence going and when he did get it going, then the next game he sprained his ankle the last couple weeks of the season."

* Saunders said Dieng has gained weight -- some 10, 15 pounds -- and Muhammad has lost some (7 or 8 pounds) and he'd like to see both continue to progress in that area.

* He said he hasn't decided who will coach the Vegas games, but added they'll probably switch the duties around. That could mean just-named assistants Sidney Lowe and Sam Mitchell could coach a game or two, as could Saunders' son Ryan, who hasn't been officially hired yet.

He said David Adelman, who has a year left on his contract, will be on the staff but hasn't decided yet whether Bobby Jackson will be back as player development coach or who might fill that role or roles.

* He did confirm he went to Chicago Tuesday to watch Creighton small forward Doug McDermott and Michigan guard Nik Stauskas work out and said he has gone to see other prospect(s) work out but wouldn't say who.

* A bit more about when I asked him if there's a chance he'll trade that 13th overall pick.

"No," he said. "I shouldn't say no. Let me put it this way: You can always trade a pick. That hasn't entered my mind. I didn't think I was going to trade me pick last year (when he swapped No. 9 for 14 and 21 and took Muhammad and Dieng). Things can happen. I do think there's more of a box now (of possible players to pick) than I did before. This morning I got something from somebody that (top 3 prospect Joel) Embiid broke his foot and (European prospect Dario) Saric is going back to Europe for two more years. If Saric goes back, he maybe falls and keeps on falling. You never know what will happen."

* He appears to be targeting shooting -- I hear McDermott, Stauskas and Adreian Payne all are high on his list -- but reiterated that he feels the team needs to add two-way players -- i.e. guys who can play defense, too -- most to this roster.

"You still need to add shooting, you can never have too much shooting," he said. "I mean, you can look at it different ways. We had trouble shooting last year but we scored a lot of points. We may have had trouble shooting, but we rebounded the hell out of it and we got to the free-throw line. You want to find that balance. I don't think you totally want to substitute shooting where we have one-way type players, though."

* One last thing from me: If Wolves try to clear roster spots and decided to do so by finding a new home for Shved, don't be surprised if Cleveland is such a home. The Cavs were one of the finalists to sign him in 2011 and chosen coach Dave Blatt coached him with the Russian Olympic team in London in 2012.

Klay in play? Kevin Love trade discussions heat up

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: June 19, 2014 - 4:58 PM

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.

Report: Nuggets offer 3 veterans for Love

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: June 19, 2014 - 12:36 AM

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.

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