Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
Kevin Love had the worst injury-plagued campaign of his NBA career in 2012-13. After breaking his hand in the preseason while working out and doing knuckle pushups, Love missed the first few weeks of the season before coming back early in a surprise return.
However, the player that returned wasn't the All-Star Kevin Love that became a bonafide superstar and a franchise cornerstone. Love returned to the court out of shape and nearly unable to hit a jumpshot thanks to his still very sore hand.
His return to the court lasted only 18 games before he broke that same hand again. There was some hope that he'd be able to return for the final weeks of the season. Unfortunately his hand wasn't completely healed and he underwent knee surgery that effectively ended his 2012-13 season.
After recovering from the knee surgery and having more time for his hand to heal, he got right back in the gym and got right back to work.
According to Flip Saunders, Love has lost about 10 pounds, down from 250 to 240 and Flip says, "he's lost weight in his face and his body looks leaner with muscle, he's really committed."
According to his long-time trainer Rob McClanaghan his endurance is better than ever and he's moving very well. Love is also adding some new 'offensive weapons' to his repertoire: a floater and a one-legged shot.
A healthy Love paired with a healthy Rubio and Peković should make some serious noise in 2013-14!
About a month and a half ago, Timberwolves assistant coach Bill Bayno accepted an offer from the Toronto Raptors to join Dwane Casey's staff as an assistant coach. Bayno accepted the deal and left the Wolves with a position to fill.
Rick Adelman decided to promote his son David Adelman to be his fourth assistant coach. David's former position was as a player development coach and he worked a lot these past two seasons with Minnesota's Summer League squad, as the head coach.
It was announced yesterday that former TWolf Bobby Jackson will be joining the Wolves organization once again, this time as the new player development coach (replacing David and joining Shawn Respert).
Bobby played for Flip for a number of years in Minnesota, when Saunders was the head coach and Jackson also spent time in Sacramento and was coached by Rick Adelman. Clearly this was a guy that everyone feels comfortable with and feels comfortable joining the staff.
Bobby had been working with Sacramento these past few seasons, but because of all the coaching and front office turnover, his position within the organization was unknown, which led him to accept this offer from Saunders/Adelman to join the Wolves family, once again.
Also joining Minnesota will be Milt Newton. Milt worked with Flip in Washington and he'll now take over as the new general manager in Minnesota. Flip also saw an obvious and glaring need to upgrade the training staff, that's why he also hired Koichi Sato as the new strength coach.
New players, new staff, new front office and hopefully new/different results for this seemingly playoff-allergic Minnesota Timberwolves franchise.
Corey Brewer is back in Minnesota with the Timberwolves--the team that drafted him seventh overall in 2007, however he returns as a much more polished player and one who now knows his limitations and accepts his role on an NBA squad.
With Andrei Kirilenko turning down the guaranteed $10million from Minnesota and joining the contending Brooklyn Nets, the Wolves found themselves in dire need of a quality perimeter defender. Flip had already reached agreements with Chase Budinger to return and Kevin Martin to re-join Adelman, however neither of those players are known for their great defense.
That's when Flip turned to a former Wolf and unrestricted free agent Corey Brewer. Brewer was with the Wolves until 2011 when he was traded to the New York Knicks as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal (in which the Wolves received Anthony Randolph and also sent Kosta Koufos to Denver). Corey never played a game for the Knicks and was waived less than a week later. Brewer joined the Mavericks toward the end of the season and was a bench warmer during Dallas' title run that netted them rings that June.
Brewer was again traded, this time to Denver as a part of the Rudy Fernandez trade. Corey spent the last two seasons in Denver under the tutelage of future Hall-of-Fame coach George Karl, who helped him understand his limitations as a player and how to accentuate his better qualities to be the best of his ability.
Brewer is now known for being a terrific 'ball hawk', he plays passing lanes very well, is dynamite in transition offense (just think of all the Rubio alley-oops we'll see in the coming years!!) and has added a corner three to his offensive repertoire.
I was definitely unhappy when the Wolves traded him in 2011 for Anthony Randolph. During that 2010-11 season, Wesley Johnson was the starting two-guard (handed the starting job from day one), with Wes underperforming, coach Kurt Rambis decided to start his energy guy, Brewer. Corey was terrific on the floor as a part of the starting unit that included Luke Ridnour, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love and Darko Milicic.
It's the same reason I liked Anthony Tolliver during his time in Minnesota. Tolliver and Brewer are two guys that always give it their all when they're on the floor, the hustle to loose balls and always give 100% on both ends.
Corey may or may not be the starting small forward when the regular season begins, however with him being Minnesota's new Defensive Stopper, he will see plenty of playing time and will likely be on the floor in the deciding moments of close games.
Brewer's a much more well-rounded player and is ready to return to Minnesota hoops as a complementary piece to Love, Rubio, Pek & Martin. I'm definitely one who's excited to have him back, especially if he's "better than ever".
On August 14th, Jonathan Abrams of Grantland.com wrote a story on former Minnesota Timberwolves lottery pick Jonny Flynn. For fans of the team, it's most certainly worth a read.
Here's the link: Jonny Flynn Wants Back In.
The most interesting thing about the whole piece is how Flynn talks about how he felt that his time in Minnesota was limited (since Rubio would be coming over in a couple years--Rubio who was selected one pick ahead of him). Instead of seeing Rubio as competition for the starting job in Minny, he instead accepted that he wouldn't be in Minnesota for very long.
Here's hoping he gets an opportunity somewhere with an NBA team.
Flip Saunders says that he expects Love & Peković to be the "Bruise Brothers" frontcourt that'll be together for a very long time.
Saunders laid the groundwork for a long relationship for this budding frontcourt by re-signing the Mighty Montenegro Man for 5-years and $60million. That's an average of $12million annually.
Talks between Flip and Pek's reps (agent Jeff Schwartz) have been ongoing for quite some time now and we consistently heard about how a deal was basically, imminent. Still, as time dragged on, it had a lot of #WolvesNation nervous and anxious. The nerves are gone now and instead it's a matter of us all debating, was Peković worth that much money for that many years?!
Minnesota's initial offer was for 4-years, $48-50million, which equates to an average of $12-12.5million annually. Peković's agents countered with a 4-year, $55million offer which is an average of $13.75million a season. By adding that fifth year and keeping it at $12million a year, it appears to be a win-win for both sides.
Another 'sweetener' of the deal is roughly $8million in bonus incentives, one of which is likely to include games played.
Peković was signed to a five-year deal, however that doesn't mean the Wolves still can't sign Rubio for a five-year deal once his rookie-scale contract ends because Peković wasn't on a rookie-scale deal, since he was a second-round pick. That means, in a couple years when Rubio's rookie contract is up, he can still get a five-year deal and when Kevin Love becomes a free agent in either the Summer of 2015 (if he declines the $16.7M+ player option) or in the Summer of 2016, he could hypothetically be re-signed to a five-year extension, as well.
Peković decided not to play for his national team a couple weeks ago and despite finally getting a deal done with Minnesota, word is he still won't play in the European Championships next month in Slovenia.
As Peković is unquestionably my favorite player on the Wolves and in the NBA, I'm definitely ecstatic! I'm a little concerned about paying an injury-prone big man big money for the next five years (until he's 32), but I also know Pek is a player that doesn't rely on a lot of athleticism, his game is under the rim, bruising and bullying opponents down in the paint. I don't see any reason (barring the small nagging injuries he's had in the past) he shouldn't be able to play at a high-level throughout the life of this new contract.
Early last week Shabazz Muhammad was booted from the rookie transition program after breaking a rule just hours after the rules were discussed. You can find the full story here on HOWL: Shabazz Breaks A Rule.
Flip Saunders has made it clear that there'll be a lack of patience for that type of behavior and lack of discipline.
"In our League, you have to be disciplined and being disciplined is being able to adhere to whatever rules are given and you gotta abide by the rules. So that's been disappointing, but when I talk to him, he's either gonna learn the rules and learn to abide by things with the big boys or he's gonna quickly learn a geography class: where Des Moines is in the NBDL down in Iowa."
Yesterday morning, Flip added this via Twitter...
Darren Wolfson (of 1500 ESPN) talked with Kevin Martin last week and K-Mart told him that he would definitely be Muhammad's #1 mentor this season. When Martin came into the League, Doug Christie and Cuttino Mobley took Martin under their 'wings' and taught him how to play at the NBA-level and be a professional in a professional league. It sounds as though the 30-year-old will be doing the same with this young rookie.
Muhammad will definitely have some good mentors on this team. Martin can provide him with veteran leadership and Corey Brewer can teach defensive intensity and defending at an NBA-level. You've also got to think that unquestioned team leaders Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love will have very little patience for Shabazz's hero-ball mentality and with that, Muhammad will hopefully learn early that if he wants to stick in this League and be a major part of Minnesota's rotation, he'll learn the rules quickly and abide by them daily.
Flip Saunders has yet to hire a general manager, but we've known for a while that he definitely has someone in mind.
Milt Newton, vice president of player personnel for the Washington Wizards is the favorite to land the job. That's thanks in large part to their time together in D.C. when Flip was the head coach of the Wizards.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Newton has formally interviewed for the position, late last week.
It sounds as though it's a matter of time, before Newton joins Saunders and the Minnesota Timberwolves organization.
For the next couple months we'll be going division-by-division to preview each team and where I think they'll end up when it's all said and done: are they contenders, lotto-bound, rebuilding or built for championship aspirations. The order they appear below is how I believe the division will shake out...
1.) Brooklyn Nets: The Nets are sparing no expense and there's absolutely no doubt that with these offseason moves--they're going for it all! They swapped Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. They also signed free agent point guard Shaun Livingston to provide depth behind Deron Williams, former Wolf Andrei Kirilenko to backup Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett at both forward positions, re-signed Andray Blatche to a minimum deal (yet again--a big bargain) and drafted big man Mason Plumlee. That gives them a starting unit of: Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett and Brook Lopez and a second unit of Livingston, Terry, Kirilenko, Blatche and Plumlee. It'll be a close battle between cross-town rivals (Nets vs. Knicks) for tops in the Atlantic division. The Nets will be a Top 3 team in the East assuming they can stay healthy as this is an older squad. Deron Williams needs to bounce back to his former self and Jason Kidd needs to show that he was hired because he was he is best person for the job and not a storyline to follow in a big market. I honestly can't believe he was hired--days after hanging up his jersey, he grabbed his polo and whistle and will stay on the sidelines, very close to the game he clearly loves. His first coaching job will be a tough one! Managing the egos of players like Williams, Johnson, Lopez, Garnett, etc. and getting them to play together to work toward the common goal: a RING. They've got big obstacles to overcome in the East: the Chicago Bulls (assuming a healthy D-Rose), New York Knicks and the Miami Heat (who are going for their fourth-straight Finals appearance...and of course a three-peat); but the Nets certainly have the talent and the depth to contend.
2.) New York Knicks: New York continues to add pieces and with them, they continue to balance their roster as a legitimate title contender. They're weakest at point guard as they'll likely start Raymond Felton with Pablo Prigioni as the main reserve. The Knicks traded away aging center Marcus Camby, sharpshooter Steve Novak and sent Quentin Richardson (in a sign-and-trade) along with two second-round picks and one first-round pick to the Toronto Raptors for Andrea Bargnani. The Knicks also re-signed J.R. Smith to a three-year deal and shortly thereafter, J.R. underwent knee surgery shortly thereafter, but he should be able to bounce back quickly and be New York's powerful offensive weapon off the bench. The Knicks added another guard in Tim Hardaway Jr. through the NBA Draft. He'll provide time at both guard positions and could have a decent role in the rotation early in the season. The Knicks added another rookie by grabbing undrafted forward C.J. Leslie. They got a bargain when they brought back Kenyon Martin, as well. Martin accepted a minimum deal to remain New York's reserve center, behind Tyson Chandler. The Knicks also picked up Metta World Peace after he was amnestied by the Lakers and cleared waivers. Artest narrowed down his choices to New York and the L.A. Clippers. He decided to leave L.A. and return 'home'. If the Knicks decide to go with Carmelo Anthony at power forward, World Peace is likely pegged as the starting small forward. The Knicks certainly have a versatile roster. If Stoudemire continues to struggle and doesn't play well with Melo, they can experiment with Bargnani, World Peace or Martin at the other forward position. I'd say it's likely they begin the season with a starting lineup of: Felton, Iman Shumpert, World Peace, Anthony and Chandler with a second unit of: Prigioni, Smith, Bargnani, Stoudemire & Martin. The Knicks will finish the season as a Top 4 squad in the East and I think they have the pieces to compete with the superteams out East: Brooklyn, Chicago, Indiana and Miami. Carmelo can become a free agent next summer by exercising his ETO (early termination option), he'd be leaving over $23.3million 'on the table'. But he may realize he can't win with this roster and playing alongside Stoudemire and seek another team via free agency (maybe the L.A. Lakers?). After 2014-15, the Knicks will have Stoudemire ($23.4M), Chanlder ($14.6M), Bargnani ($11.5M) all 'off the books' and just under $20million in salaries thus far for 2015-16. Basically, the Knicks have told Carmelo that if he stays in New York, he can hand-pick his teammates in the summer of 2015. The 'Melo-Drama' is far from over!
3.) Toronto Raptors: I'm really interested by the Toronto Raptors this season, they have some talented pieces and could really make some noise in the East next season. I'm not a huge Rudy Gay fan, but it's unquestionable that this is the best Toronto team we've seen in years. Toronto's starting lineup will likely feature: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas and a second unit of: D.J. Augustin, Terrence Ross, Landry Fields, Tyler Hansbrough and Aaron Gray. The Raptors brought in the reigning Executive of the Year: Masai Ujiri, after the Nuggets refused to match Toronto's multi-year offer to him. Ujiri went right to work and put together a great package to get Bargnani out of town. The Raptors were likely going to have to amnesty the former #1 overall pick, but instead, Ujiri put together a package that netted them a first-round pick, two second-round picks, Quentin Richardson, sharpshooter Steve Novak and veteran big man Marcus Camby. The first-round pick alone would've made it a win-win. Camby was later bought out and he joined the Rockets on a veteran's minimum deal. Toronto signed two free agents that played in Indiana last season. D.J. Augustin was added to be the backup point guard, though after a VERY rough season in Indy, he'll have to prove he has the 'chops' to make it in this League or he could find himself unemployed in the NBA in 2014-15. The other Pacer was big man Tyler Hansbrough who will begin the season as the reserve power forward, but could eventually challenge Amir Johnson for the starting job, now that Bargnani is no longer a Raptor. This isn't a team built with championship dreams in mind, however Toronto has the same goals as our Minnesota Timberwolves: make the playoffs! The Raptors haven't played postseason basketball for five-straight seasons, that's nothing compared to Minnesota Misery, but if this Raptor team can stay healthy, Valanciunas has a breakout year and Rudy Gay shows he's more than just a high volume shooter, they should nab one of those bottom playoff seeds.
4.) Boston Celtics: Goodbye Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Doc Rivers. Hello Brad Stevens, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, Gerald Wallace, Kelly Olynyk, Phil Pressey and Vitor Faverani. The Celtics sent KG, Pierce and Terry to the Nets and netted Brooks, Bogans, Wallace & Humphries as well as three future first-round picks. Now this truly is Rondo's team. Rajon is coming off an ACL tear and as Timberwolves fans we know how long it can take to return to form. Rubio finally began to look like his 'old self' in the last few months of the 2012-13 season. Derrick Rose tore his and missed an entire season! It's different for every player though...Adrian Peterson is a prime example of 'best-case scenario'. To begin the season, the Celtics will likely rely on a starting lineup of: Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk with a second unit of: Phil Pressey (signed as an undrafted rookie), MarShon Brooks, Gerald Wallace, Brandon Bass and Vitor Faverani. When (or if) Rondo finally returns, Bradley will shift to the starting two-guard and the rest of the rotation would play out the same. I know there are some Celtic fans that believe they could actually make the playoffs as a 7th or 8th seed. I don't see that happening. Rajon Rondo not being available to begin the season, likely having to rely on Jeff Green to be a 20-25ppg scorer and not having a true starting center (Olynyk is a stretch four, Faverani is an overseas unknown and Melo is likely still not ready to be a big part of the rotation). For all of those reasons, I believe it'll be a lottery season for Beantown.
5.) Philadelphia 76ers: Tear it down and build it back up. The Sixers traded away their all-star point guard (Jrue Holiday) and let Andrew Bynum walk. Bynum left Philly a year after he was involved in the Dwight Howard trade to L.A. in which the Sixers sent Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless to Orlando (now to key cogs in the Magic rebuilding plan) and Andre Iguodala to Denver. Bynum leaves without playing a single game for the 76ers. They traded away a lot of talent for him and now he walks and the Sixers get nothing in return. It makes sense why the ultimately decided to 'blow it up'. They began the rebuilding process by drafting Michael Carter-Williams to be their point guard of the future and in the Jrue Holiday trade, the Sixers received the 6th overall selection (Nerlens Noel) and a 2014 first-round pick (Top-5 protected) from the New Orleans Pelicans. The Sixers still have veterans Jason Richardson, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes on the roster (among others), I'd say chances are VERY good that they're very available in trades. Philadelphia's starting lineup will likely include: Carter-Williams, Richardson, Turner, Young and Hawes with a second unit of: Nate Wolters (a second-round selection by Philly), James Anderson (acquired after he was waived by Houston along with Tim Ohlbrecht), Royce White (acquired in a trade with Houston...though will he even play?!), Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown. Nerlens Noel is recovering from an ACL tear and could be available sometime in December. Chances are good that as the season wears on, they'll likely put the youth movement in full effect, meaning trading for more prospects and giving them a lot of playing time. The Sixers are currently still in search of a coach as well. Doug Collins declined to return for 2013-14 late last season and the Sixers have certainly taken their sweet time in finding a replacement. Spurs assistant Brett Brown appears to be in the lead for the job as it was reported this week that they're negotiating on a contract. Philadelphia will be lottery-bound and they're crossing their fingers they hit it big by landing the top pick and thus the consensus #1 pick: Andrew Wiggins. #TankforWiggins
That's all for now, stay tuned for the other five divisions over the next month-and-a-half. Thanks for reading!
The NBA schedule was released yesterday evening and we found out who the Wolves will be playing in the 82-game regular season schedule. Here are some notes from the upcoming season schedule...
Here's the full 2013-14 preseason and regular season schedule for the Timberwolves: Schedule.
Shabazz Muhammad has been sent home early from the Rookie Transition Program for breaking a rule.
The rookie transition program is a four-day event in which rookies go through an 'orientation' program. Basically it's a program used to tell these young kids how to keep out of trouble and how to manage their money.
The rule Muhammad broke was bringing a female to his hotel room. It happened just hours after the rookies were given the rules, one of which included: no guests in the rooms.
The Timberwolves organization confirmed that Shabazz had been sent home from the program early and Flip Saunders said this in a statement, "We have been made aware of the circumstances surrounding Shabazz Muhammad's dismissal from the NBA's Rookie Transition Program in New Jersey. The team fully supports the NBA's rules and policies in all matters pertaining to this situation and we will abide by the league's action."
This isn't the first incident during the Rookie Transition Program. In 2008, Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur and Michael Beasley had a party in their hotel room and there were women and marijuana in the room. Chalmers & Arthur were both fined $20,000 while Beasley was fined $50,000.
Muhammad will make roughly $1.8million this season, that's of course before the League imposes a fine.
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