It was less than two weeks ago that Flip Saunders, Wolves president of basketball operations, said his team might be in the market for a veteran point guard.
He has arrived.
A source confirmed a report that the Wolves had come to an agreement on a one-year contract with veteran Andre Miller, who visited the Wolves on Wednesday.
It marks an evolution in Saunders' thinking. Immediately after moving up to draft former Apple Valley star Tyus Jones late in the first round, Saunders sounded like he might be happy with Jones as Ricky Rubio's backup. But the fact that Rubio is coming off ankle surgery and Jones is a rookie ultimately changed Saunders' mind.
"You don't want to put the pressure on the young guys so much," Saunders said two weeks ago. "Hey, listen, we're always looking to upgrade. It could happen."
And it did. Miller, 39, is nearing the end of a long career, but his experience should help both Rubio and Jones while giving the Wolves some peace of mind.
"He's very excited about the opportunity," Miller's agent, Andy Miller, told the Associated Press. "He was sold on the direction of the team and the veteran leadership he could provide to a promising young roster. He felt it was a good fit."
Andre Miller also has a familiarity with assistant coach Ryan Saunders, Flip's son, from their days together in Washington.
Originally drafted with the eighth overall pick in the 1999 draft by Cleveland, the 6-2 Miller has averaged 12.8 points and 6.7 assists over 16 seasons. Last season between 81 games in Sacramento and Washington, Miller averaged 4.4 points and 3.5 assists per game.
Wild, Haula submit arbitration figures
The Wild and restricted free-agent center Erik Haula exchanged briefs Wednesday with the possibility of a salary arbitration hearing Friday.
The Wild is looking to pay Haula $775,000 next season and Haula is seeking $1.2 million, sources confirm. If the sides fail to settle and go through with arbitration and don't settle before an arbitrator makes his decision, the arbitrator will choose a number equal to or between the ranges after hearing each side's argument. The decision, if the sides don't settle on a contract, would come within 48 hours of the hearing.
This is different from baseball, where the arbitrator chooses either the team's number or the player.
Since Haula filed for arbitration, the Wild gets to pick the term. The Wild has opted for a one-year award.
If the sides don't settle on a contract, the arbitration hearing is scheduled for Friday in Toronto. Assistant GM Brent Flahr and director of hockey administration Shep Harder will represent the Wild. Agent Jay Grossman will represent Haula.
Haula scored seven goals and seven assists in 72 games last season.
Original Viking Hawkins dies
Linebacker Ross Cooper "Rip" Hawkins, a charter member of the Vikings, died Tuesday.
Hawkins, 76, was selected by the Vikings for their inaugural season in the second round of the 1961 draft, ahead of Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton.
A middle linebacker from 1961-65, Hawkins started 66 of 70 career games as a Viking, leading the team in tackles from 1961-64 and returning three of his 12 career interceptions for touchdowns.
He made the Pro Bowl in 1963.
Hawkins was born in Winchester, Tenn., and played football at North Carolina. After his NFL career, he served several years as assistant district attorney for Fulton County, Ga. He lived in Devils Tower, Wyo., for the past 15 years.
David La Vaque
•Kenzie Neisen, a former prep state champion at New Prague, closed with a 3-over-par 76 and ran away with the Minnesota Women's State Amateur, winning by 12 strokes at Interlachen Country Club. Neisen's 36-hole total of 1-under 145 easily defeated Anni Heck, Heather Ciskowski and defending champion Cassie Deeg, who tied at 157.
• A seven-run first inning that included a steal of home by Ryan Lashley boosted the visiting Saints to a 12-6 victory over the Gary SouthShore Railcats. Angelo Songco had a three-run homer.