With Cleveland and Golden State battling for the NBA championship, I thought this was a good time to catch up with Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau, who has not been in the news much since his hiring. Thibodeau is heavy in the process of getting ready for the June 23 NBA draft and is still assembling his staff as well.
Q Have you hired any coaches?
A No, we're still in the process, we're talking to some people. Currently there are people under contract that we're talking to that are still playing, so we have to wait to see how it all plays out.
Q Are you working out players for the draft?
A We're doing our due diligence right now. We have a lot of players coming through Minneapolis and we're also going out to visit the agents that are running their pro days and you get a chance to see eight to 10 players working out. So we're gathering information. It also gives us an opportunity to visit with them and interview them, and they get a chance to talk to us. It's the beginning of building a relationship. Over the course of time, you never know what transpires either through trades and free agency and sometimes on draft night there could be a trade that's made where you get a second-round pick, so I think it's important to know everybody.
Q Have a lot of teams been calling about trading for the No. 5 pick?
A Yeah, I think we're in a great spot, I think there's a lot of interest in the pick and there's also, I think, really good players at that spot. It's a very good position to be in.
Q What about the quality of players, is this a good draft?
A This time of year you tend to hear both, it's an OK draft, and then as time goes on it gets better and better. I think a lot of it is based on what you need, what you like in a player. I think you always find good players and often times you find that there are players that end of being a lot better than anyone anticipated. You're seeing it right now with Draymond Green going in the second round and a short time later he's a great player playing in the Finals. I think that's why it's important to study and to evaluate and to go through games and have an understanding of who each game is.
Q Where are the international players coming from these days?
A I think that when you watch international play, and I've been fortunate enough to be part of Team USA, the NBA has really become a global game. I think you have to cover the whole world, really. There's a lot of countries that are playing great basketball. Things tend to go in trends. You know there was a period now in which there have been several point guards that have been terrific, and then you get off-guards, and it'll shift back to maybe the big guys will come along again.
But the game is in a great place, and I think when you're watching the way Golden State plays, it's unique, it's different, it's exciting. But then you turn and see Cleveland and they play a little bit differently but they're exciting, as well. When you look at the versatility of Golden State, their ability to start big, go small, go both ways, a lot of guys that are 6-7, 6-8, the game seems to be trending that way. But size is very important. You look at Golden State or OKC, they're all very big. The size, the shooting, I think there's probably more of a premium on shooting then there's been in the last 10 years. You see more teams shooting a lot of threes, getting up to that 30 mark, you can never have enough shooting. I think that how you surround your best players is really important. When you study these teams that have made it to the conference finals and the [NBA] Finals, you see how important shooting is.
Q What position do you need to make this team stronger and be a playoff contender?
A I think we need size, we need toughness, and we need shooting. We're obviously going to have to get much better defensively. We're going to study the draft and we have free agency, so we're preparing for both and doing them simultaneously. We'll see how it unfolds and then we have to work on developing our own players. There's a lot of work that needs to be done to improve.
Q Any news about Kevin Garnett playing next season?
A No, we're still communicating through e-mails and stuff and texting, so we'll sit down at the appropriate time. We'll figure it out.
Wolves fans have to be excited watching these NBA Finals and thinking about what kind of schemes Thibodeau is going to come up with for this promising squad next season.
Goetz was sure to go
Beth Goetz wasn't in a talking mood following the announcement that the former Gophers interim athletic director had decided to leave the University of Minnesota to join former Gophers assistant athletic director David Benedict, who is now the AD at Connecticut.
All Goetz wanted to concentrate on was to praise the president of the University of Minnesota, Eric Kaler, for giving her the opportunity as interim AD last August, as she presided over one of the toughest stretches in the history of the athletic department. Goetz predicted great things for the Gophers under new AD Mark Coyle.
"I was happy to serve in the way the president asked me to, and if he would have felt I was the best I would have loved to the opportunity to lead Minnesota," Goetz said. "But I really think Mark Coyle is a great guy. He is going to do a tremendous job moving forward in the future."
One thing Goetz did say that was lured her to UConn was the opportunity to be involved with a football program, which other opportunities she had didn't offer.
"I love the Twin Cities, and it wasn't easy to leave," she said. "It was a really difficult decision for me. I know the success they're going to have and what great people are there, so it was a tough choice, a tough decision."
There's no doubt in my mind that at one time Kaler was going to make Goetz the permanent athletic director, but when one problem after another developed in the athletic department, the pressure from the outside was such that the boosters and those close to the university wouldn't have been happy with the appointment.
There's also no doubt also in my mind that she was very upset when she was overruled on whether or not to keep former football coach Jerry Kill in the program, and that it was among the many factors as to why she left.
I don't believe the job at UConn is any better than the one Goetz would have had here had she stayed. But thinking she had the top job at one time was another big reason for her departure.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. email@example.com