Derrick Williams showed up at Target Center this morning for a crowded weekend minicamp slimmed down 15 pounds so he can play small forward just when the Wolves continue their $46.5 million dance with free agent Nicolas Batum and the Trail Blazers.
"He's a great player, man," Williams said. "I've seen him play before, this season, even before I got to the NBA. It's really not about a hammer (over his head) anything like that. It's just about me getting better. If I had played a little bit better last season maybe we wouldn't be having this talk right now. I'm just trying to stay ready for this season, just trying to stay motivated to get my body in shape."
Williams said he now weighs 233 pounds after playing at 248 last season.
"He's not the chubby one anymore," teammate Wes Johnson said. "He's leaned up. I think that weight suits him better."
Williams is changing his body so he can play small forward -- a position he played little in his rookie year last season -- because his power-forward minutes behind Kevin Love always will be limited.
"I think I owed it more to my teammates more than anybody, more than to myself," he said.
And now the Wolves continue to work toward throwing big money at a guy who plays that same small forward position.
Williams also has been the subjected of repeated trade rumors this summer.
"I really don't pay attention to it," Williams said. "It's not my job to worry about that. My job is only to get out here and play basketball. All that stuff going on, it happens. Everybody goes through it. I just try to push through it. Hopefully, I stay here."
Williams has slimmed down by working out two to three times a day in Los Angeles, running on the beach, eating healthier.
He also feels a lot better after having surgery in May on his septum.
"It helped a lot," he said. "I can actually breath out of my nose now. It's a lot better."
The weight loss, the surgically repaired nose, summer league and a complete training camp...Williams expects to be a different player come October.
"I know I can play a lot better than I did," he said. "Just be more consistent. A couple games against the Clippers, I had 27 and 8 and next game I have 6 and 3. If I'm goign to go out there and be a 15 and 8 guy, then I need to be a 15 and 8 guy."
Johnson also is a guy whose future with the wolves is uncertain.
Asked about the Wolves pursuit of a guy who plays his position, Johnson said, "It's kind of hard to keep up because there's stuff happening every other minute. You can't get caught up in that. You get in a whirlwind if you think about it. Make sure you can control what you can control. The other stuff is out of my control. I heard about it, but I really don't get up in it. If it happens, it happens."
Twenty-one players reported today for the first of a three-day minicamp at Target Center. They're expected to take 15 to Las Vegas Sunday for five games there next week.