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.
That Wolves trade that has been in the works for days and days -- shooting guard Wayne Ellington to Memphis for forward Dante Cunningham -- will finally be official later today.
The Wolves are dealing away a 2009 first-round draft pick (28th overall) who was only going to see playing time this season if there were many injuries and getting back a guy who plays both forward spots and is active on defense.
Both players make almost exactly the same salary -- a little more than $2 million a season -- but the deal gives the Grizzlies another shooter and gives the Wolves a needed forward for a team that has added guards Brandon Roy and Alexey Shved but lost Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph and quite possibly Anthony Tolliver from the frontcourt.
Portland drafted Cunningham 33rd overall out of Villanova in 2009 -- third pick in the second round, five picks after the Wolves took Ellington -- and traded him to Charlotte in February 2011. He signed as a restricted free agent just before the start of last season.
The Wolves also could officially announce their first free-agent signing -- Shved's -- as soon as Wednesday.
The others, including Boston center Greg Stiemsma, might not come until the Wolves line up any other moves in case they want to fit one signing into an salary-cap exception slot.
Two days after the NBA free-agency signing period began, the Wolves are signing Nicolas Batum to that big offer sheet today and when done, Portland will have three days to match.
Wolves owner Glen Taylor said the team will submit the signed $46.5 million offer sheet to the NBA by the end of business today, a distinction that gives the Blazers one last chance to agree to a sign-and-trade.
The Wolves are willing to offer draft picks, but aren't giving up Derrick Williams or Nikola Pekovic.
Taylor said he believes the Blazers have seen the offer sheet. "You call their bluff," he said.
Once submitted, you can bet two things: The Blazers will match and they'll take probably nearly all 72 hours to do it.
This negotiation hasn't yet ended in compromise and a sign-and-trade agreement, so the Wolves are following through with their threat of overpaying a young player whose big contract now almost certainly will go on the Blazers' books.
If the Blazers weren't willing to take a draft pick or picks and Kyle Korver, you know they're not willing to give up Batum for nothing now.
The offer sheet does include some bonuses above the $46.5 million, such as All Star Game appearances, etc.
Once Batum signs the offer sheet, the option for a sign-and-trade is gone.
To make salary-cap room, the Wolves did waive Darko Milicic, ending the Manna from Heaven era by agreeing to pay him $7 million of the remaining $10 million-plus left for the last two years on the contract he signed in July 2010.
Expect buyouts on Martell Webster and Brad Miller for the remaining year on each contract to come as well
Darko's agent, Marc Cornstein, said the move with his client "certainly didn't come out of left field" and he said Darko still wants to play in the NBA.
The Wolves will use their one-time amnesty provision on Milicic, which means that $5 million-plus salary will come off their books this next season.
He now goes on the amnesty waiver wire for 48 hours.
So what do the Wolves do now when the Blazers match the Batum offer sheet?
Taylor said the first priority isn't necessarily a wing playe but "We've got to get some big guys."
They've been pursuing Boston restricted free-agent center Greg Stiemsma and Lakers power forward Jordan Hill and it now looks like those bigs will be the priority over a wing.
As for those wings, their best options are, in this order:
1. Courtney Lee
2. O.J. Mayo
3. Andre Iguodala
Lee makes sense for multiple reasons: Like Mayo, he's an unrestricted but he'll likely come at least a couple of million dollars cheaper. He also has a mutual admiration thing going with Rick Adelman, for whom he played in Houston.
Expect Phoenix to throw money at Mayo after New Orleans matches the Suns' offer sheet for Eric Gordon.
Wolves Nation would do a collective handstand over Iguodala, but the Wolves would have to swallow real hard to accept his $15 million contract for the next two seasons and give up the assets needed to get him, although they probably wouldn't have to give up as much as you might think.
Draft night has come and gone and the Wolves walked away Thursday without making a deal to get back into the first round or without pulling off any other deals, including one they continue to pursue to bring them Pau Gasol.
Instead, they waited all night, until the third from final pick before they took Purdue senior Robbie Hummel with the 58th pick.
David Kahn said the team contemplated making a deal to get a player they targeted late in the first round -- he wouldn't say who, but it was Duke center Miles Plumlee, who they brought to Target Center for a second workout on Tuesday -- but they didn't succeed when Indiana took him 26th.
So they waited another couple hours and took Hummel, a 6-8 shooting small forward who Kahn deemed would have been a first-round pick if his career hadn't been detoured by two torn ACLs within 10 months of each other in 2010.
If you're keeping score at home, Hummel's arrival now gives the Wolves eight white guys currently on their roster.
Kahn said they drafted Hummel intending he will compete for a roster spot this fall if he continues his progress back from those two surgeries.
So it was a quiet night.
As for those additional moves Kahn promised?
The Associated Press reported that the Wolves offer of Derrick Williams to Charlotte for the Bobcats' second overall pick was part of a bigger deal that would bring Gasol to Minnesota, where he'd join Spanish national teammate and pal Ricky Rubio.
The Bobcats refused the offer and took Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist instead.
The Lakers have been shopping Gasol and the $37 million left on his contract. They reportedly sought a Top 10 pick in Thursday's draft and an established player.
The Wolves have pursued Gasol since last year's draft and are interested in a 32-year-old with a huge contract probably because Rick Adelman is 66, Glen Taylor probably won't own the team for more than three or four more years and Kahn needs to get this team to the playoffs to keep his job.
They're probably figuring a core of Gasol, Rubio and Love could win 50 games and not only getting them into the playoffs, but well into them.
The Lakers also have interest Michael Beasley, who could be the established player in such a deal.
If such a trade for Gasol is made, it might come closer to training camp than draft night, but we'll see.
I''m not sure how to read this latest development: Is it a sign of movement toward a deal or an indication that one could be hard to strike if the Lakers aren't interested in Williams himself.
Meanwhile, the Wolves move on from Thursday toward the start of free agency on Sunday.
On Friday we should find out if Portland shooting guard Jamal Crawford has opted out of his contract for next season and if the Wolves will pursue signing him along with Brandon Roy when free agency begins Sunday.
Someone, including the Wolves, could still trade for him before that decision comes, too.
If the Wolves are able to pull off a deal for such a big salaried player as Gasol, they'd try for that shooting guard upgrade by signing a Crawford or Roy for the team's mid-level or mini mid-level exceptions.
The NBA's 2 p.m. trade deadline has come and gone and Michae Beasley and his sore big toe are still here.
Portland blew up their team, firing coach Nate McMillan today and trading Gerald Wallace to New Jersey and Marcus Camby to Houston in a deal that brought back former Timberwolves guard Jonny Flynn.
But Jamal Crawford stayed put, never making it to Minnesota in that three-way deal with the Lakers that would have sent Beasley to L.A.
From what I've been able to gather today, that's the only proposed deal the Wolves came close to making and ultimately the deal fell apart because the Lakers as their part of the deal wanted the Wolves to take back a guaranteed salary for next year.
The Wolves ultimately decided Crawford wasn't that much of an upgrade over Beasley, not at the price of adding $3 million or more to their payroll next season and the fact that Crawford just might be a two-month rental.
He has a player option for the second year of the contract he signed with Portland in December and every indication is he will opt out from that $5 million salary and test the free-agent market again.
I don't believe Luke Ridnour -- or Steve Blake -- were ever part of the trade discussions.
Blake was rumored to be headed to Portland in that three-way deal, but what the Blazers wanted for Crawford was one of the two first-round picks the Lakers own this summer. And the Wolves weren't giving up both Beasley and one of the two they own from Utah and Memphis.
The Lakers did find takers for salaries they wanted to dump for luxury-tax purposes: They dealt Luke Walton's $6 million for next season, Jason Kapono's expiring and their own first-round pick to Cleveland for Ramon Sessions to address their point-guard problems, then sent Derek Fisher's $3.4 million contract for next season and Dallas' first-round pick to Houston for forward Jordan Hill.
All of that means Beasley remains a Timberwolf through this season.
He will be a restricted free agent this summer. Don't expect the Wolves to extend him a whopping $8 million qualifying offer, but they could still decide to re-sign him as an unrestricted free agent to a lesser salary come July.
That's what I've been saying all along: GIve him the entire season -- including possibly playoffs -- to prove himself and then decide whether you want him to be part of your future, and at what price.
Don't expect to see Beasley tonight at Utah: Even though he's still with the Wolves, that big toe was hurting him at shootaround this morning and it's doubtful he'll play.
The Wolves are chasing Houston and Dallas for that eighth and final playoff spot. The Rockets added veteran Camby and Fisher, but could still just waive Fisher as the price to pay for getting that Dallas' pick.
"I like it as it is," Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said about his team before the deadline passed. "The other night we scored 127 points. We have ways to score and ways to play, so I like the group we have."
The Lakers didn't pull off a deal for Beasley, but they did get Sessions (and Hill).
Other trades included:
* Denver dealt away Nene just three months after signing him to a huge deal in a three-way deal with Washington and the Clippers that sent JaVale McGee to Denver and Nick Young to the Clippers.
* Golden State sent Stephen Jackson to San Antonio for Richard Jefferson.
* Leandro Barbosa went from Toronto to Indiana.
The Timberwolves are pursuing a three-way trade that would send Michael Beasley to the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland guard Jamal Crawford to Minnesota and Steve Blake to the Blazers before Thursday's 2 p.m. trade deadline approaches, league sources confirmed this afternoon.
Not sure yet what other elements -- namely, draft pick(s) -- might be involved.
The Timberwolves just concluded practice in Phoenix before flying to Utah this afternoon, and Beasley was there shooting at the end and then walked up and climbed on the bus with his teammates.
I saw it with my own eyes.
The question is, will he still be a Timberwolf this time tomorrow?
"Twenty-four hours from now? Whooooo," Beasley said, his voice rising when asked if he still expected to wear a Wolves uniform Thursday night at Utah. "I mean, of course. But if I'm not, I'm not.
"I'm just a pawn in this game. L.A. Boston, New Jersey, Orlando, anywhere they decide to move me, then I've got to go. I'm not saying I want to, but that's something I have no control over. I'd love to stay here. It don't make it no easier if I've got to up and move. I got a nice-sized house with a lot of things inside of it, but I'd rather stay. If I've got to go, it's just business."
Beasley said he talked with Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn but said Kahn made no promises either way if he'd be traded or not.
"Nothing important," he said about their conversation. "We'll see what happens."
He said he has talked to his agent, Jeff Schwartz.
"I heard a little bit, but nothing so far," Beasley said. "I'll just wait to hear from him. I don't watch the sports channels or read the newspapers."
Asked if he updates his Twitter account regularly to follow the latest rumors, he said, "Nah, I try to stay out of the world."
Yahoo!Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski first reported today that a Beasley-Crawford swap was gaining momentum.
One thing to remember if this deal goes through: The Wolves play the Lakers at Staples Center on Friday night.
The Wolves pursued Crawford as a free agent in December. I talked to Crawford before the game in Portland earlier this month and here's how he said the Wolves' courting him went down: They had alread signed J.J. Barea to a four-year deal and wanted to sign him, too. They asked him to remain patient while they dealt with other matters, but he said he wanted to be in training camp on time and narrowed his list to Portland and Sacramento before choose the Blazers, who are just down the freeway from where he grew up in Seattle.
"I really thought they were a team on the rise," Crawford said then. "Their young guys have gotten better, obviously with Rubio coming in. I'm a big fan of Coach of Adelman. He's really laid back. He's an old-school coach. He's got some great, great, great stuff offensively. I can't take credit and say I saw them being right there in the thick of things (a playoff race) but I definitely saw them being a lot better than they were last year.
"Toward the end of it, I wasn't sure how interested or serious they were. I think they wanted me to be more patient and at that time, I was kind of running out of time."
Here's what Rick Adelman said when I asked him then why the Wolves pursued Crawford: "He's a scorer. He's a volume scorer. The thing I was always impressed with was, when the game is on the line he can make shots. He can make something happen. He's a great free-throw shooter. He's got great range. He's just a very good offensive player, someone you can go to."
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