Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
The Return of Ricky is inching closer and closer. Following a recent checkup with his doctor in Colorado, Ricky Rubio has been cleared for no-limitation, full contact practices.
The Wolves have one day off today (Thursday 11/29) before returning to action vs. the Bucks at the Target Center on Friday. After Friday's game, the Wolves have three days off before their game vs. the 76ers, next Tuesday. Those three days should be Ricky's first few days back at practice.
Rick Adelman said prior to the Wolves' game vs. the Clippers on Wednesday, that Ricky would practice for the next couple weeks and would be evaluated during that time. David Kahn added that they wouldn't rush Ricky back and upon his return he'd likely have a 16-18 minute cap.
Star Tribune writer Jerry Zgoda guesses that Rubio will return on Dec. 12th vs. Denver. My guess is two games later, vs. the Mavericks on Dec. 15th. Here's hoping when he returns he's at 100% and can get into form quickly. We all know the Wolves are desperate for his return to that starting backcourt.
Patience will be key for us, the fans, no reason not to get excited though, we're getting closer to having Ricky, AK, Love & Pek take the floor, together.
That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves got a nice surprise last Wednesday when Kevin Love returned to the floor weeks ahead of schedule. He's struggled a bit shooting the ball since returning in three games, however the Wolves are definitely a better ball club with him.
Minnesota's EVEN better with Ricky Rubio on the floor, too. This weekend we got some good news on that front. Rubio returned to Vail Colorado where the surgery was performed in hopes that his doctor with give him clearance to return to practice.
We've heard rumblings about him participating in 5-on-0 offensive walkthroughs, that he's shooting in practices and before games. We've seen him on Fox Sports North before games warming up and running up and down the floor, I haven't however seen him move laterally (side-to-side) which is VERY important.
It's no secret that the Wolves' starting backcourt is absolutely dreadful right now, let's face it: Luke Ridnour & Malcolm Lee just aren't 'cutting it'.
We all know that Ricky is a flashy passer who creates easy buckets for his teammates. However, what will be most appreciated upon his return is his defense. Ricky is a very good perimeter defender. Before the injury last season he was averaging 2.2 steals a game. He also does a very good job of keeping his opponent in front of him, bumping and hassling opponents from getting where they want to.
The hope is that Ricky will be cleared by his doctor and return to practice when the Wolves return to from that four-game West coast trip. The Wolves play the Kings on Tuesday and the Clippers on Wednesday. They'll have Thursday off before facing the Bucks at the Target Center and then they'll have the next three days off before returning to action vs. the 76ers in Philadelphia. I'd assume he'd return to practice during that three-day stretch (assuming he's cleared).
That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
I don't think there's any NBA fan that wasn't surprised to see Kevin Love back on the floor just over four weeks after breaking two bones in his right hand. His presence on the court makes these Timberwolves a very dangerous NBA team, that starting frontcourt of Andrei Kirilenko, Love and Nikola Pekovic is definitely one of the best in the NBA.
It's great to have him back so soon (just missing nine games--while most assumed it would be around 15 or 20), however we'd be ignorant to think that, that hand is 100% healed after just over four weeks. He admitted, following his season debut on Wednesday, when he scored 34 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, that there was definitely still some pain in the hand, but he'd fight through the injury. Here's praying that he doesn't make it worse and we lose him for another long, extended period of time.
The Timberwolves now have 12 healthy players and they should be getting Ricky Rubio back within the next month or so and that's when this TWolves bandwagon will be quite full and REALLY fun to watch.
The TWolves will be back in action on Friday vs. the Trailblazers, check the Gameday section for the full preview of that one! That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
I can't believe I didn't put this out before, but if you haven't heard already (I assume you have), the Minnesota Timberwolves have four players on this year's Western Conference All-Star ballot.
Two-time All-Star Kevin Love headlines a quartet that also features second-year player Ricky Rubio, the much-improved Nikola Pekovic and former All-Star (2004) and 10-year veteran Andrei Kirilenko.
Of course, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love have yet to play a game, however Love should return sometime in the next two weeks and Ricky, likely within a month, so there's some time (once they return) to make their case for an All-Star selection.
With just 54 days of voting left (as of 11/21) the TWolves have some deserving All-Star caliber players on this team. I would be surprised if Kevin Love wasn't an All-Star and I'd be insulted if Andrei Kirilenko didn't get the nod, as well. Through the Wolves' first nine games he's been the reason they're 5-4 (with two very close consecutive losses lately) and not 0-9 (without their headliners Kevin Love & Ricky Rubio). Pekovic's play should definitely get some recognition during this early stretch thus far in 2012.
You can go here and vote every day to get your Minnesota Timberwolves to Houston for the 2013 All-Star game!
That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
UPDATE (11/19 @1:40pmCT): Roy's surgery is scheduled for today (Monday 11/19) in the Twin Cities. TWolves doctor David Fischer will perform the scope and we'll know a lot more when it's over. Roy is expected to be out at least two weeks, dependent, of course on whether or not they find any other damage once they're inside (of course, what does B-Roy have left to damage in those knees?).
Well...about twenty minutes after I wrote this article: Rubio & Love Both Practice (w/Updates on Pek, J.J., Roy & Howard). Timberwolves nation got some unfortunate news.
Brandon Roy will be undergoing arthroscopic right knee surgery. This surgery will be the seventh of his basketball career.
There's no word, yet on a return date or if he'll even play again. It looks like Alexey Shved, Malcolm Lee and Josh Howard will continue to be your shooting guards.
Roy re-aggravated his right knee during the Nov. 9th game vs. the Indiana Pacers. It was the same knee that gave him some trouble during the preseason.
I'm sure we'll hear more about it tomorrow after the Wolves' practice. Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Don't get too excited. Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio DID participate in practice today (11/18), however it was doing some 5-on-0 offensive walkthroughs.
This also isn't to say that either player is ahead of schedule in their rehabilitation(s). Kevin Love's return date is still tentatively set for the beginning of December and Ricky Rubio's return date still mid-December/early-January.
Nonetheless, it's still some great news. Rick Adelman himself was encouraged that both are back on the court with their teammates.
Nikola Pekovic also returned to practice after missing the past week with an ankle sprain (suffered in Monday's game 11/12 @Dallas). Nikola participated fully, he did have some pain, but I would assume he'll play Wednesday vs. the Nuggets.
Neither J.J. Barea (mid-foot sprain) or Brandon Roy (sore right knee) participated in practice. Adelman has said he expects to have J.J. back by the beginning of next month. If you remember last season, Michael Beasley suffered a mid-foot sprain after ten games that kept him out the next three weeks.
Roy was looking to return by Friday for the game in Portland vs. the Trailblazers. It's looking less and less likely he'll be ready to play by then. I wouldn't be surprised if one day in the near future he re-retires. He did decline an interview with the media following today's practice and I haven't seen him travelling with the team or on the bench during any games since he left at halftime vs. the Pacers on 11/9.
With these four days off between the Warriors' game on Friday and the Nuggets' game on Wednesday will be beneficial for the Wolves' new addition, swingman Josh Howard. He'll learn more of the playbook, work on his conditioning and acclimate himself in this new system with his new teammates. At this time, with so many players out with injuries what he can bring as a shooting guard/small forward off the bench will be VERY beneficial.
That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Prior to the beginning of training camp the TWolves pulled the trigger on a deal that sent shooting guard Wayne Ellington to the Memphis Grizzlies for forward Dante Cunningham.
When I first heard the news, I wasn't quite sure why the TWolves wanted ANOTHER big man. I remember being quite upset too, because I had wanted them to resign Anthony Tolliver (they still could have, but grabbed Lou Amundson instead and Tolli found a home in Atlanta). Tolliver was a guy you couldn't help but root for just for his energy and hustle on the floor. Now, nine games into the regular season this is the first time I've mentioned AT since the beginning of training camp.
Why is that? The surprising (to me) play of Dante Cunningham. Coming into the 2012-13 season, Dante had career averages of 5.2ppg & 3.4rpg in 16.9mpg. I knew he had some pretty good games in Memphis but because of inconsistent minutes never really got the chance to shine. With Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Chase Budinger on board I was puzzled, wondering where he would find consistent minutes here.
Dante had been vocal, when he came to Minnesota that he wanted a chance to play some consistent minutes and prove that he could contribute. Thanks to an unfortunate knuckle push up incident, Dante got his chance. Sure, Derrick Williams is starting at power forward, however it's Dante that Adelman has trusted late in games.
Thus far this season (through nine games) Cunningham is averaging: 9.7ppg & 6.1rpg in 24.7mpg while also shooting .541 from the field (a lot of those coming on his 'sweet' mid-range jumper).
Cunningham is consistently outplaying the #2 overall pick in 2011 and proving to the coaching staff that when Kevin Love returns to the lineup, that he's deserving of those backup power forward minutes. Sure, D-Will had a good game on Friday vs. the Warriors (23pts, 7reb, 2ast 4blks) but so did Cunningham (14pts, 6reb, 1ast, 1stl, 1blk), the difference being, Dante has continued to perform consistently, while Williams has continued to force up jumpers and blow open layups (often times going for flashy dunks--that he routinely misses, rather than an easy layup).
As of right now, I say, when Kevin Love returns Dante is the backup power forward and you explore some trades for Derrick Williams OR you sit him on the bench and have the coaching staff continue to work with him. BUT, for the love of God! If Adelman continues to give Williams minutes despite his awful production (Wesley Johnson circa 2011-12 anyone?) I might just lose it! Especially when you have a player producing consistently and at a high level for you (Dante Cunningham).
Dante's performance thus far has certainly taken me by surprise and I don't doubt he's done the same for some of you. Here's hoping that continues. That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
UPDATE (11/16 @11:55pmCT): Josh Howard is officially a Minnesota Timberwolf after passing his physical. Howard joined the team for the morning shootaround and stayed around afterwards working with Malcolm Lee, Alexey Shved, Lou Amundson, Derrick Williams and assistant coach Terry Porter on set plays. It was rumored that the Wolves offered the same one-year veteran's minimum deal to Mickael Pietrus, but Howard responded first as Pietrus is likely holding out for a mini-mid-level exception ($2.575million). Howard is expected to play tonight vs. the Warriors and the minutes will depend on his conditioning. He says he hasn't played since the 2012 playoffs when the Jazz lost to the Spurs. I'd expect somewhere between 8-12 minutes.
For the past two games Andrei Kirilenko has played 44 minutes apiece in each and after yesterday's loss vs. the Charlotte Bobcats, the Wolves decide to get some more help for their injury-riddled roster (Of course it was AK's fault of the loss finishing with 26pts & 12reb).
Today it was announced that the Wolves had agreed to a one-year veteran's minimum deal with forward Josh Howard.
The Wolves are down to just nine healthy bodies, currently Kevin Love is out with the broken hand, Ricky Rubio is out while he continues to rehab after reconstructive knee surgery, Chase Budinger is out after suffering a torn lateral meniscus last week, J.J. Barea is day-to-day with a mid-foot sprain, Brandon Roy is day-to-day with a sore right knee and Nikola Pekovic is day-to-day with a sprained ankle.
Hopefully the Wolves can get J.J., Roy & Pek back soon, however that doesn't help much in backing up Andrei Kirilenko at small forward as Chase Budinger will miss the next 3-4 months with that torn meniscus--prompting this signing.
In order to sign Josh Howard the Wolves will have to waive someone and it's all but certain that someone will be point guard Will Conroy, who honestly isn't a capable NBA player.
The Wolves had been in contact with free agent Mickael Pietrus as well and had even been rumored to be searching for a trade, but Howard was the only player they put through a workout (they did so when they were in Dallas earlier this week).
Others were hoping the Wolves would sign Pietrus, but I was always keen to Howard (or Michael Redd). While it's true Pietrus is the better shooter, Howard has a much better all-around game and can play three position on the floor (SG, SF, PF) can score (averaged over 8ppg last year with UTH), rebound and defend. Hopefully now, when AK comes off the floor, there won't be such a dramatic drop-off in the team's production (like there was on Wednesday night).
Howard should pass his physical later today and will more than likely be in uniform for Friday's game vs. the Golden State Warriors (I'll be at that one!).
We'll have all our pages updated soon enough (taking off Conroy and adding Howard). Check back later this evening! Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Chase Budinger, as I'm sure you well know has torn his lateral meniscus in his left knee. On Tuesday, he underwent surgery and a timetable of 3-4 months has been set as his return. As such, the Minnesota Timberwolves are now in dire need of another 'wing' player (some who's capable of playing both small forward and shooting guard).
According to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities the Minnesota Timberwolves have reached out to veteran small forward free agents Josh Howard and Mickael Pietrus.
According to Wolfson, the Wolves 'worked out' free agent Josh Howard when they were in Dallas on Sunday/Monday. They haven't put Pietrus through a workout yet, though they have been in contact with his 'camp'.
Other names that have surfaced include free agent swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts and a potential trade with the Utah Jazz for Raja Bell. I noted Michael Redd in my previous post on this topic, though I haven't heard his name come up in these rumors (beyond the Wolves wanting him to come to training camp with them back in October). Wolfson also mentioned that the Wolves had the opportunity to sign free agent Kenyon Martin on Tuesday, but declined (if Nikola Pekovic's ankle sprain had been more severe, I'm sure they would have considered Martin, however they're in need of a swingman not a power forward/center).
The Timberwolves however, have a full fifteen-man roster, currently and their only option, if they want to sign someone, is to waive a player currently on the roster--likely seldom-used point guard Will Conroy.
Now the challenge becomes getting a veteran forward to take the minimum ($1.2million--same as Lou Amundson's making) by enticing them with minutes a decent role, a great coach and (currently) a winning basketball team.
I'm sure we'll have more on this very soon, until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Things continue to go south for the Minnesota Timberwolves as news broke Sunday evening that Chase Budinger has suffered a torn lateral meniscus. Chase will have surgery later this week and although no timetable has been set, the typical recovery time is right around two months.
The Wolves now have just a handful of healthy guys who can play small forward. Brandon Roy and Alexey Shved can both play some small forward, however they'll be needed to play those shooting guard minutes. Andrei Kirilenko is the starting small forward and should see a slight bump in minutes 32-40 minutes a night (he played 42 vs. the Bulls on Saturday). Power forwards Dante Cunningham and Derrick Williams have already been talked to (by Rick Adelman) about playing some small forward minutes. Though they have a position they need to cover (power forward), Lou Amundson should see some more time in the frontcourt if Dante or Derrick play small forward.
That leaves the Wolves with minimal options, they can choose to do nothing and likely suffer some winnable games, because they have just ten healthy players or they can swing a trade or sign a free agent. The Wolves would either waive Will Conroy or ask the NBA for an injury exception, so they could keep their 15 players and grab a veteran wing player.
Let's take a look at some of the small forward free agents...
1.) Mickael Pietrus: Pietrus is a player that the Wolves have flirted with all offseason. He played last season in Boston. In 42 games (and 21.9mpg) Pietrus averaged 6.9ppg, 3.1rpg, shot .385 from the field and .335 from deep. The 30-year-old, nine-year pro continues to look for work (a team to play for) in large part because he's only been offered the veteran's minimum--and he wants more. If the Timberwolves want to sign him, that veteran's minimum is all they'll have to offer.
2.) Josh Howard: Howard played last season in Utah, he played 43 games (starting 18). He's far from his all-star days in Dallas, however he's still a VERY capable backup wing. Last season's averages were 8.7ppg, 3.7rpg, 40% FG & 24% 3PT in 23mpg. Howard is in a similar situation as Pietrus, he's not on-board with the idea of taking the veteran's minimum (especially when there are other teams that still have exceptions, ie: can pay him much more).
3.) Michael Redd: Redd was someone they targeted in the offseason. The Wolves had planned to bring him in on a non-guaranteed training camp deal, but he backed out at the last minute. If the Wolves are looking to replace some of Budinger's three-point shooting, Redd is probably the best option on this list, as a shooter. He played 51 games (2 starts) for the Phoenix Suns last season with averages of (in 15.1mpg) 8.2ppg & 1.5rpg, 40% FG & 32% 3PT.
OTHERS: James Anderson, Kelenna Azubuike, Renaldo Balkman, Rodney Carney, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Maurice Evans, Gary Forbes, Joey Graham, Stephen Graham, Donte Greene, Mike Harris, Lazar Hayward, Damion James, Adam Morrison, Jamario Moon, Quentin Richardson, Quinton Ross, Bobby Simmons, Alando Tucker, Bill Walker, Shawne Williams,Terrence Williams.
The Timberwolves could explore a trade for someone like Raja Bell of the Utah Jazz. Not too many teams are looking to make trades right now.
We'll keep you posted with all of this, stay tuned for more, until then thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
A TWolves fan, bringing you the daily updates.