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.
The Wolves broke camp in Mankato late Sunday afternoon and they open their seven-game preseason schedule Tuesday at Indiana and Flip Saunders has a plan.
He intends to play about 10 players -- "a lot of people," he says -- but not all of his veteran players, including veteran guard Kevin Martin who is out until at least Thursday because of a groin adductor strain that he injured in a scrimmage on Saturday.
"We want to look at a lot of different people, we want to look at a lot of lineup," Saunders said. "The main thing is to go through the process and evaluate players. We do have some evaluation to do amongst our players: Who's going to be here, but also what the lineups are going to be. We're not going to play everybody because then they don't get a chance to get a ful run.
"We'll probably pick 10 guys to play and who we pick has no bearing on where they are right now coming of camp. I know we'll play some guy who might not be starting if we were starting (the season) for good."
Saunders said he'll sit down with his coaches and head athletic trainer Gregg Farnam after Monday's practice and plot out a plan for players. He said the entire roster will travel to Indianapolis, even though eight players might not play much, if at all.
"We want to start preparing like it's a game," Saunders said. "We'll do the game-prep stuff. We'll do the walk-through and everything else, so the young guys -- and even the veterans, they haven't been around us -- will know how we deal with game-day situations."
The Wolves spent six days practicing against each other. Now they'll finally face somebody.
For a look at some of what they accomplished or learned from those six days in Mankato, here's the story for Monday's paper I wrote about five things that week away showed.
The Timberwolves have come through the first five days of training camp in Mankato relatively healthy, but not entirely so.
Veteran guard Kevin Martin is the latest to leave practice early, doing so this afternoon when he injured his groin while reaching to make a steal in a collision along a sideline during a scrimmage.
He immediately came up hobbling and signaled for the training staff.
Flip Saunders afterward said he doesn't yet know the severity of the injury but, given the timing so early in the preseason, he suggested they will exercise caution to be sure it doesn't become a lingering issue.
Meanwhile, Corey Brewer returned to practice today after leaving early because of his chipped teeth sustained in a collision with Thad Young.
He went to the Twin Cities late Friday afternoon to have what he called "patchwork" done on his front two teeth and will return to the dentist on Wednesday for more work.
In the meantime, he's wearing a mouthguard and, yes, he's still smiling.
"Always," he said.
A few other things from practice:
* Saunders continues to remark on camp's competitive nature and an attention to defense.
Asked how good defensively this team can be, he said, "I don't know. I think we have a chance. We understand the concepts. I think our athleticism give us the ability to help and recover. I'm not willing to step out yet but we are getting better. That's the main thing."
* Andrew Wiggins continues to impress on the defensive end more so than offensively so far.
"He's picking things up right now," Saunders said. "He's trying to put everything up and not do too much. He's real solid defensively. We haven't done a lot of offensive scrimmaging, so he hasn't had a chance as much in the open floor to show some things he can do. But he's impacted the defensive end."
* Saunders continues to praise J.J. Barea at point guard for his command in running the offense and from what I've seen in camp so far, it's genuine. He's had a good camp.
* Nikola Pekovic said he's has come through camp's opening five days feeling strong and said he had some soreness in his Achilles that contributed to sitting out Thursday's practice.
The Wolves will finish camp Sunday with an afternoon scrimmage -- closed to the public, but open to about 70 or 80 invited high-school coach -- and then head home to get ready for Tuesday's preseason opener at Indiana.
Wolves veteran forward Corey Brewer got whacked in the mouth during today's practice and chipped two teeth that will require a trip back to the Twin Cities from Mankato to have them fixed.
"That's a major injury for him because of the way he smiles, that takes away all the laughing and smiling," coach Flip Saunders said.
Brewer is expected back in time for Saturday's practice, the team's second-to-last session in Mankato for camp.
Not sure if that means he'll be back in time for tonight's annual lasagna feed at owner Glen Taylor's Mankato home.
He was injured during a collision with Thad Young for a loose ball.
Brewer stopped practice early on the same day Nikola Pekovic and Glenn Robinson III returned to work after they sat out Thursday.
Pekovic didn't practice Thursday, a precautionary measure Flip Saunders said he'll use occasionally this season to try diminish the wear-and-tear on Pek's ankles and feet.
Robinson mildly sprained an ankle in Wednesday night's scrimmage, but appeared to be running fine today.
The Warriors got big, bad news today, just hours before they play the Wolves tonight at Oracle Arena.
With a playoff series with the L.A. Clippers or Oklahoma City looming, the Warriors announced starting center Andrew Bogut is out indefinitely after he fractured a rib in Sunday's overtime loss at Portland.
"We're a no-excuse team," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "It hurts, but we move forward."
Starting forward Andre Iguodala also isn't playing for Golden State, his knee is being rested for the playoffs that start this weekend.
Wolves center Ronny Turiaf is not expected to play tonight, either, after he played just four minutes Sunday in Sacramento because of that same right knee that caused him to miss 19 consecutive games in February and April.
The Wolves are getting their starting Kevins -- Love and Martin, of course -- back in the lineup for tonight's game at Sacramento.
Love is expected to start after he missed Friday's 112-110 victory over Houston because of a hypextended elbow injured two nights earlier against Chicago.
Martin is back after five games away because of what the team called a sore foot but which he said before tonight's game probably is some of the dreaded plantar fasciitis as well.
Meanwhile, Rudy Gay is out for the Kings and former Wolves forward Derrick Williams will start.
Just in time for Williams, who has a couple of his most active games against the Wolves this season.
In fact, since he scored 26 points against them at Target Center on March 16, Williams has scored 48 points in 12 games played -- exactly 4 points a game -- and didn't have more than eight points in any of those.
He played just five minutes -- none in the second half against a small opposing lineup -- and scored two points in Saturday's loss to the Clippers in L.A.
Kings guard Isaiah Thomas is available to play after he missed the last 10 games because of a quad contusion.
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