SAN ANTONIO – Coach Tom Thibodeau had no comment on Adrian Wojnarowski’s Yahoo Sports story Tuesday afternoon that, quoting sources, said the Wolves were “actively shopping” point guard Ricky Rubio in trade proposals.
Rubio has played well of late. He entered Tuesday’s game having dished out 10 or more assists in four consecutive games. On Monday, he told the Star Tribune he was playing the best basketball of his career.
Talk of Rubio being available in a trade is not new.
But according to the report, the Wolves have linked Rubio with forward Shabazz Muhammad in talks with several teams. The Wolves reportedly are looking for a veteran guard who can start in the short term until rookie Kris Dunn is ready to step into the starting role.
Through the first half of his first NBA season, Dunn has averaged 16.6 minutes, 3.9 points, 2.3 assists and 2.1 rebounds while shooting 37.8 percent.
“I think he’s ahead of most rookies defensively,” Thibodeau said. “He’s had some really good moments. I think he’s finding his way, he’s learning the NBA game. So I want him to take it day by day, put everything he has into it, concentrate on improvement.”
The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 23.
New coaches award
The NBA Coaches Association has announced a new award, named after longtime executive director Michael H. Goldberg, that will be given to the league’s most successful coach. When the Wolves were in Dallas on Sunday, Thibodeau and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle — the NBACA president — met before the game to discuss the award.
It is an award Thibodeau said he feels strongly about.
“Michael Goldberg has run the coaches association for a number of years, and he’s done a lot of great things,” Thibodeau said. “And it’s sort of to recognize all the things he’s done for us. He epitomizes selflessness, integrity, honesty, all the things we hope coaches would stand for. We thought, as an association, we should do something for the group.”
Goldberg joined the NBACA in 1980, six years after it was formed. Since then he has worked for benefits for coaches such as disability insurance and pensions.
“We have a number of owners who have helped, including Jerry Colangelo,” Thibodeau said of the former Phoenix Suns owner who now works with USA Basketball. “And [Wolves owner] Glen Taylor has had a lot to do with it as well.”
The award will be voted on by the 30 head coaches, and it will be the only award chosen exclusively by that group.
Thibodeau celebrated his 59th birthday Tuesday.
Well, celebrated might be too strong a word. When congratulated by members of the media after the teams shootaround Tuesday morning, Thibodeau joked: “If you were really my friends, you wouldn’t mention that, but thank you.”
When asked if he celebrated the day, he said no more than once.
“When you get to this point, you try not to celebrate,” he said. “You hope they just keep going.”
Guard Zach LaVine was asked if he was going to give his coach a present. “I feel if I play some defense he’ll have the best birthday ever,” LaVine joked.
Bruce Bowen, who played the final eight years for his 13-year career with the Spurs and now works with ESPN, was at Tuesday’s game. After being named to eight league all-defensive teams in his career, he knows a little something about the subject.
His advice to Wolves fans and players — be patient.
“It’s a lesson,” he said. “It’s learning. They have to believe in the process. They have one of the best [in Thibodeau], and I love the fact they play hard every night.”