During his season away from the NBA, Wolves president of basketball operations and head coach Tom Thibodeau spent time visiting pro and college teams, watching practices, observing organizations, trying to learn from each step.
Judging from Tuesday’s camp-opening practice, Thibodeau is returning the favor.
Watching practice was Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff, former Wolves assistant and head coach Randy Wittman and Gophers coach Richard Pitino.
Coach K and his staff were at the Wolves practice facility after going to Apple Valley on Monday to meet with highly-recruited point guard Tre Jones — the younger brother of Wolves guard Tyus Jones, a former Duke star.
“I’m obviously thrilled that Coach K and his staff are here on the first day,” said Thibodeau, who was an assistant to Krzyzewski for Team USA in Rio. “I had the good fortune to work with him on the Olympic team. And he’s the best. So I appreciate it. Randy Wittman, who has been a great coach in the league for a long time, he’s here. Richard Pitino is here. It’s always good to get their thoughts on what they see. So it was good.”
Krzyzewski coached Team USA in Rio, and Thibodeau was an assistant on that team. So the two converse regularly anyway.
“He happened to be in the area,” Thibodeau said. “To have someone like that to spend time with you and the team, it’s a big plus. And what he’s done is incredible. Great leader, great team-builder. He’s an amazing person. To give up his time, we really appreciated that.”
• Other than Nikola Pekovic — who remains on the roster though he won’t play this summer — the Wolves opened camp in good health, with the other 16 players on the training camp roster able to practice.
• Nemanja Bjelica said he has lost a significant amount of weight, though he doesn’t know exactly how much. Much of that is due to a new diet that stresses protein and eschews sugars.
“No junkie food,” he said. “I feel great. I can feel it on the court. I can run more.’’