For the first time since 1995, Kevin Garnett will not be at an NBA training camp this fall. But the Timberwolves will hold their first practice Tuesday with KG very much on their minds.
“It was a lot of emotion,” Karl-Anthony Towns said about Garnett deciding to retire on Friday. “He’s very passionate, emotional. That’s why we bonded so well. That was something that bonded us from Day 1.”
Tom Thibodeau, president of basketball operations and head coach, opened media day’s first news conference lauding Garnett and his 21-year career. Thibodeau said it is the team’s intent to honor Garnett at a game at some point this season.
“We’re going to let him step back and gather his thoughts,” Thibodeau said. “See what he wants to do. Then he and Glen [owner Glen Taylor] will sit down and talk.”
Meanwhile, the Wolves players will remember what Garnett told them, but go forward on their own. As Shabazz Muhammad said, calling the Wolves young is getting old.
“It was always enjoyable to hear his voice,” Andrew Wiggins said. “How amped he was before games. You can’t replace that. He came back to mentor young players. There’s no one to do that for us now. We have to do it on our own.”
With social activism increasingly becoming a role athletes are accepting, Thibodeau and several players were asked about recent protests by athletes during the playing of the national anthem.
It is an issue Thibodeau said he talked with his team about. Thibodeau, who was an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic team in Rio, said he was impressed at how four members of that team — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul — took the stage at the ESPY awards to encourage their fellow athletes to be socially active.
To that end, Thibodeau said the team met and discussed ideas to get involved in the community.
“We want ideas we can do that are more action-driven, be impactful in the community,” he said. “We talked about it [Sunday] night.”
That said, the players have clearly given a lot of thought to the issue.
“We all know what’s been going on,” Muhammad said. “It’s something we have to address.”
Said Zach LaVine: “Things aren’t going right, and people want change. We see that. I feel that we, as individuals, can get more involved in our communities.”
With practice starting Tuesday the Wolves filled out their training camp roster by officially announcing the signing of swingman Rasual Butler and guards John Lucas III and Toure’ Murry to non-guaranteed contracts.
Butler, 37, has appeared in 809 games in 13 NBA seasons. Last season he played in 46 games for the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 2.7 points per game. He played briefly for Thibodeau in Chicago in the 2010-11 season. Lucas, 33, has played in 237 NBA games, most recently with Detroit, and has a career 4.8 scoring average. Murry, 26, has played in 56 games for three teams.
• LaVine was asked if he would go for a third straight slam dunk title over All Star break. He wouldn’t commit. “I don’t know what else to do,” he said. “I might have to find another event.’’