At Monday's annual media day, Timberwolves veteran Kevin Martin made it clear he considers himself the team's starting shooting guard in a new season when interim coach Sam Mitchell seems intent on giving young Zach LaVine every opportunity to grow and develop.
Martin has started for most of his 12-year NBA career, but he also came off the bench one season for a superstar-led Oklahoma City team that won 60 games that year.
So when someone suggested Monday there's a compelling case for him to fulfill either role on a team that won 16 games last season, he disagreed.
"No, there's not a compelling case," he said. "I know what I am among shooting guards in the league."
Three days later, he softened his opinion when asked about his words, saying, "We're just in here working hard, trying to get things together to have a better season than last year and we'll go from there."
Mitchell will make such decisions, but he said the team remains nearly a month away from playing a game that counts.
"Guys wait, it's too early to even worry about that," he told reporters. "We got a lot of time between now and then."
Martin is the savvy veteran who first played in the NBA when LaVine was 9 years old, and at age 32, he remains one of its most efficient scorers. He's also the Wolves' best three-point shooter and maybe their only outside shooter who defenders don't dare leave.
LaVine is a raw, dynamic athlete and the future for a team Mitchell says is playing for success two or three seasons down the road. Out of necessity, he was forced to play frequently at point guard in his rookie season, but is expected to transition to his more natural shooting-guard position so he can both score and facilitate for others.
LaVine is the logical successor to Martin at the starting shooting-guard spot. The big question is: When?
"Well, time will tell," Mitchell said. "We'll give Zach every opportunity to be out there. He's got to earn it, but he's doing a good job and K-Mart's doing a good job helping him and teaching him. Our whole thing is, it's about us. It's about everybody in that uniform. It's not just one person. We know everybody wants to play and everybody wants to start, but you've got to be a good teammate.
"That's the thing we're stressing. So far our guys have been really good teammates to each other. I'm proud of them for the way they play together and work together and encourage each other."
Like pal Corey Brewer a year ago, Martin has two seasons left on his contract but can choose to leave as a free agent after this season. When the 2014-15 Wolves season changed because of too many injuries early on, Brewer was traded to Houston for guard Troy Daniels and two second-round draft picks.
Martin likely will seek a contract extension — he's set to earn $7.1 million this season and nearly $7.4 next season —before he agrees to stay next season. He said he has had discussions with Mitchell and General Manager Milt Newton about his future with the team.
"I let them know I'm never going to be a guy who chases a ring," said Martin, who's fully recovered from a broken wrist sustained last November. "I want to be part of family type of atmosphere. That's something they're doing here. We all had good talks about that. We'll just go from there."
Dieng 'unaware of' Louisville scandal
A book alleges a University of Louisville men's basketball staffer paid an escort service to provide sex for recruits during the time Wolves center Gorgui Dieng played there.
"I can't say much about it because I don't like to talk about stuff I don't understand," Dieng said Friday. "Personally, I was not aware of it. You just told me. I never had to be in a situation like that…I know Dre [staffer Andre McGee]. Personally, I know he's a good guy and he worked me out sometimes, but that's all I know about him. As far as throwing parties, the stuff you say, I'm unaware of."
Taking a break
Mitchell pulled Ricky Rubio and Kevin Garnett out of Friday's practice-ending scrimmage, just to keep them fresh after four days of 3½-hour training-camp workouts.
"I just wanted to be cautious with some of these guys," Mitchell said. "We've got a long season."
•The Wolves will take Saturday off and bus to Mankato, Minn. for their annual lasagna dinner at owner Glen Taylor's house before resuming camp workouts Sunday.
•Former coach Rick Adelman watched practice for a second consecutive day Friday. He is in town to visit son David, who is a Wolves assistant coach, and his new grandbaby.