As the NBA world reels from the megatrade that sent Damian Lillard from Trail Blazers to the Bucks, the Timberwolves will be opening their training camp this week with media day Thursday.
The Wolves open camp earlier than 28 other teams because they and the Mavericks will be headed to the United Arab Emirates this weekend for a week-long trip on which they will play two exhibition games in Abu Dhabi.
Training camp marked a pivotal moment in the Wolves' season a year ago, in large part because the Wolves never had a cohesive team to work on chemistry in the first year of the Karl-Anthony Towns-Rudy Gobert partnership. That bled over into the Wolves' early-season struggles.
Here are some storylines to watch this camp as the Wolves tip off.
Will the Wolves actually be able to practice together?
Last year, Gobert came in nursing an injury after international play. Then Towns spent time dealing with an illness, which prevented them from practicing together for weeks. Following this year's World Cup, in which several Wolves participated, there didn't seem to be any Wolves with significant injuries. That should allow Gobert and Towns, who only played in 33 games together, including the postseason, to get better chemistry.
Coach Chris Finch said in July having continuity and a strong training camp would be essential to the Wolves starting better this season, and the Wolves having players available to practice is a big part of that.
Will Jaden McDaniels sign an extension?
Sometimes it takes a deadline to get a deal done, and the Wolves and McDaniels might be headed in this direction before the season. Fellow 2020 draft classmate Anthony Edwards inked his lucrative extension this summer. McDaniels, who won't be making maximum money like Edwards is, figured to have a more complicated negotiation because of that. The Wolves remain confident a deal could get done. If it does drag into next season, McDaniels would be a restricted free agent and the Wolves would still control whether they can keep him or not.
Will the Abu Dhabi trip cause tired legs?
Related to that, will this trip to Abu Dhabi wear the Wolves down early in the season? Again, several players already had a busy summer travel-wise with the World Cup taking place in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. Will the travel schedule catch up with the Wolves at any point? It will be worth monitoring their public comments on how they're feeling as the grind of the season kicks into gear.
What is the competition at the back end of the roster?
The Wolves have an open roster spot entering camp and may be looking to see who of their camp invitees might be worthy of a two-way spot, even though Luka Garza, Matt Ryan and second-round pick Jaylen Clark occupy those slots. Someone like Garza, who played well at Iowa last season and in limited minutes with the Wolves, could get bumped up to the main roster.
Ryan figures to come into camp having to secure his spot after signing the two-way qualifying offer the Wolves extended him. The Wolves have signed former Rockets guard Daishen Nix to an Exhibit 10 contract and former Thunder forward Vit Krejci to training camp deals, among others. On Wednesday, they agreed to a deal with former Hawks guard Tyrese Martin.