It’s been awhile since the last time Anthony Tolliver wore a Timberwolves uniform.
And yes, things have changed. He’s married now, with kids. Last time he lived in Uptown. Now he’s in the suburbs.
“A lot of life has happened,” Tolliver said Monday, at Wolves’ media day.
And, in Tolliver’s case, his game has developed. The 6-8 forward was with the Wolves for two seasons starting in the fall of 2010. He was a part of two teams that combined for 43 wins in two seasons, four fewer than the Wolves had last season.
This time around Tolliver figures to be a part of an improved second unit for a team determined to take another step despite the expected departure of Jimmy Butler.
Tolliver, who signed a one-year contract in the offseason, returns to the Wolves with rather heady three-point statistics. Always serviceable behind the arc, Tolliver took it to a new level last year, setting personal highs for three-pointers attempted (4.6) and made (2.0) per game while shooting 43.6 percent, seventh best in the league.
It was, he said the perfect storm of opportunity and preparation. He’d always felt he could be effective from three. He prepared for it. And he found a coach in Detroit last year, Stan Van Gundy, who let him shoot and thrive.
“I felt it was something I’d have to do to stay relevant,” he said. “To stick around for a long time. It was a combination of freedom, opportunity and preparation. It all came together at once.”
Off the bench for the Pistons, Tolliver attempted and made more three pointers per game than any Timberwolf. Three-point shooting is something Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau has said needs to improve. Tolliver is more than willing to help. When asked whether he felt he’d have the same freedom to shoot the three under Thibodeau, Tolliver smiled.
“If I play, you will see three-pointers put up, period,” he said. “[Thibodeau] knows what he’ll get out of me.”
Changing the world
When it came to a (likely) post-Jimmy Butler era, Karl-Anthony Towns had relatively little to say. When it came to his recent signing of the max, five-year, $190-million contract with the Wolves, he was vague about his discussions with the Wolves — particularly owner Glen Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune — that preceded it.
But he was pretty effusive when it came to talking about what all the money means for him, for his family. Frankly, for everybody.
“When you’re growing up playing the game of basketball, you’re never thinking about a dollar,” he said. “You’re asking your parents for a pretzel at Papa John’s or a Gatorade at the concession stand. Now you’re presented with a situation where you can take care of generations of your family.”
He talked about his niece and nephew — “Who I almost call my own kids,” he said. He talked about how they’ll be able to go to any college they want, though, smiling, he said he’d “push ’em towards Kentucky.”
But there’s more.
Already active in charities, Towns talked about expanding that effort in Minnesota and in his home of New Jersey, and beyond.
“I’m able to make the world a better place,’ ” Towns said. “So I’m excited.”
• Asked for a behind-the-scenes report on how the team took the news of Butler asking for a trade, forward Gorgui Dieng — never one to stir the pot — just smiled. “That’s why we have a locker room,” he said.
• Justin Patton arrived at media day with a smile and a walking boot. His rookie year was lost to a broken left foot. This year he’s coming off right foot surgery that will keep him out indefinitely. “I’m doing great,” he said. “I’m always in good spirits. When this one happened, honestly, it kind of took me back a little bit. But I have to listen to myself, get ready every day and get through it.”