The good-natured jokes continued.
On Tuesday newly-signed guard Brandon Roy laughed about his first stint with the Wolves, which lasted a matter of minutes after he was drafted by the team in 2006, then traded. Thursday, new backup center Greg Stiemsma was asked what was the best thing about his first stint with the Wolves. "Was there one?" he joked.
Stiemsma, whose basketball career included stints in Turkey, South Korea, the development league and last season with the Boston Celtics, signed a two-year deal worth nearly $2.6 million, with the first year guaranteed.
He brings to the Wolves proven shot-blocking ability; he was second in the league last season in shots blocked per minutes played. Adding a player capable of protecting the basket was an offseason goal for David Kahn, Wolves president of basketball operations.
"It feels good to be wanted," said Stiemsma, who played his college ball at Wisconsin. "It's good to have your hard work pay off, to see results from that. It's been a journey."
Stiemsma, who is 6-11, was signed by the Wolves in April 2010 and spent the summer working out with Al Jefferson. But he didn't go to camp with the team. His first NBA experience came last season, when the Celtics signed him. With Boston, Stiemsma averaged 2.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while averaging 14 minutes per game.
Stiemsma said his long road to the NBA helped him develop his game. Working for a summer with Jefferson helped a lot, as did learning from his Celtics teammate Kevin Garnett last season. Also, his year playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce during the 2009-10 season helped his confidence. Tanner Bronson, his college teammate and friend, was an assistant on that team, and Stiemsma said Bronson helped him to believe he was good enough to play in the NBA.
Stiemsma said he would have liked returning to Boston, but coming back to the Midwest had its advantages, not the least of which was being close to his family, which lives in Randolph, Wis. His father, Rick, has been battling health issues.
"With everything you see on the court, what I can be a part of, and the off-court stuff, Minneapolis was not a hard sell for me," Stiemsma said.Rubio improving
Kahn returned Thursday from Vail, Colo., where Ricky Rubio had a scheduled postsurgery checkup. Kahn said Rubio looked fit and was upbeat and the news on his knee was good.
Rubio hasn't been cleared to run; that could come after the next scheduled update in mid-September. But Kahn said he expects Rubio to be on the floor with the team, in some form, when training camp starts in October.
"At practice, he'll hopefully be able to do some noncontact things," Kahn said. "It's very important for him and for our team that he starts the season traveling, practicing, that he's here."
Rubio is scheduled to return to Spain on Saturday and then will travel to London to be with the Spanish national team competing in the Olympics.