Posts Tagged ‘Star Tribune’

Report: Rubio’s Return Is Near

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman has much to be thankful for during this holiday season. By almost every measure, his team overachieved throughout the first three weeks of the season, before slip-sliding through their current five-game losing streak.

In addition, he recently got All-Star power forward Kevin Love back in the lineup from injury.

And there could be more good fortune for the Adelman and the Timberwolves in the form of a healthy and fully recovered (from ACL surgery) Ricky Rubio. Originally believed to be on his way back sometime in the middle to end of December, there are signs that he could return sooner than expected.

Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune has the details, or better yet the lack of concrete details, coming from the Timberwolves regarding Rubio:

David Kahn said he still isn’t putting a timetable on Rubio’s return, as he hasn’t done all along.

But there’s no question Rubio’s return is getting closer, maybe closer than expected, particularly if you weren’t expecting him back until Christmas or later.

He’s been working out quite vigorously on his own before games — just saw him working up a sweat shooting and doing other drills — and it’s certainly possible he could be back in a game perhaps even sometime that first week of December, or shortly thereafter.

After watching Damian Lillard and Wes Matthews torch the Wolves Friday night in Portland, they could certainly use his defense.

“When he was healthy last year, he was very good keeping the people in front of him,” Rick Adelman said. “He was able to control the guard he was guarding and not let him get around him. He was in the Top 5 in steals. He was always in the right spot defensively as a team defender, too. He’ll help us. He’s give us a little more size there. His instincts will help us a lot.”

If the Timberwolves have any chance of saving themselves from their current dip on the dark side of the standings, they’ll need to do it now.

The sooner Rubio gets back into the flow — along with Love — the better chance they’ll have to do exactly that.

Welcome To The Doghouse Darko!





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman has landed the latest, and perhaps the defining rebuke of the myth that once was Darko Milicic, by opting to go with anyone but the former No. 2 overall pick as his starting center this week with Nikola Pekovic sent home to rest sore ankles.

We know, smashing on Darko is no longer a spectator sport. It’s become a bit of a brutal ritual for folks like us, those of us that have refuted this notion that he was destined to be the global icon some billed him to be when he was selected after LeBron James and before the like of Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the 2003 Draft.

But Adelman’s decision to keep Milicic on the bench should be seen as exactly what it is, yet another reminder that our first impressions of Milicic (when he couldn’t get out of Larry Brown‘s doghouse in Detroit) were probably spot on. Adelman didn’t spare any feelings when explaining to the Star Tribune why he chose rookie forward Derrick Williams over Milicic to start alongside Kevin Love:

“He hasn’t done anything to really give you a lot of faith that he’s going to go out and do the job,” Adelman said of Milicic. “He’s gotten himself out of shape. He hasn’t been as driven as you’d like so when a situation like this happens, it’s time for someone to have their opportunity and get back in there. Today, [Williams] going to get his chance and Anthony Randolph is going to get his chance and we’ll see if any of those guys can step up.”

May the Darko myth rest in peace! And be warned, history will not be kind to the real story.

Wolves Get Overheated, For The Good!





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Welcome to the playoff chase, Minnesota. You have officially arrived.

The Timberwolves still have plenty of work to do if they want in on the NBA’s postseason party. The dream is fading. But they are not completely out of it yet and they are on the right path.

When your stars go after each other on the sideline before, during or after an ugly showing against a lesser opponent, you have the makings of a team that is serious about making some noise in the playoff hunt.

Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love and point guard J.J. Barea, who collected his ring while with the Mavericks last season, got into a dust-up on the bench during a timeout in a game they would eventually lose to the Kings (see a little of the argument at about the 2-minute mark in the clip above).

Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune provides the details. We’re not talking Thrilla in Manila stuff here, but there was definitely some chest-puffing going on (this blow-by-blow from Steve McPherson is worth a look):

Barea stepped toward Love while the two exchanged words and Love rose from his seat on the bench until Luke Ridnour ushered Barea away and Martell Webster did the same with Love.

By then, the Wolves’ third consecutive loss was all but assured, six days after they began this seven-game, 13-day road trip with a victory at Phoenix.

Love and Barea both put the same name to an afternoon when they briefly turned on each other. Meanwhile, the struggling Kings ran away to a 20-point fourth-quarter lead and a 115-point total two days after they put 120 points on the scoreboard and beat the Boston Celtics by 25.

“Frustration,” Barea said.

Barea called the afternoon’s outcome “terrible, worst loss of the year if you want to put it timingwise” after the Wolves committed 21 turnovers and acquiesced in a fourth quarter when they gave up the good fight, after losing in overtime at Utah on Thursday and remaining respectable against the Lakers on Friday.

“Part of the game, competitors trying to win,” Barea said. “We’re frustrated that we’re losing, but it happens, every basketball team. We just got into it. It’s all right. He said something I didn’t like, I said it back and we’re all good. Nothing against him.”

This is one of those instances when a little overheating is for the greater good. The Timberwolves need to get upset. They are letting a playoff opportunity slip away with their recent play (losing three straight and going 4-6 in their last 10 games).

It’s rare that we would argue for this sort of public display of discontent between teammates, and we’re glad Love and Barea didn’t drag their temporary temper tantrums off the court.

But they are right to care enough to go at each other a little bit. Desperate times call for desperate measures, fellas.

Report: Ricky Rubio Done For Season





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Ricky Rubio‘s celebrated rookie season is over, according to a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Timberwolves’ point guard has a torn ligament in his left knee that will cost him the remainder of this season and possibly the Olympic games this summer in London.

This is devastating news for the Timberwolves, who are chasing a playoff spot for the first time in years behind the play of All-Star power forward Kevin Love and under the tutelage of first-year head coach Rick Adelman.

Rubio went down in the final seconds of Friday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, his knee buckling before he collided with Kobe Bryant. The fear Friday night was that it was a potential season-ending injury. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune confirmed those fears this afternoon:

Just when the franchise finally had reversed four long, losing seasons by surpassing .500 to become a playoff contender for the first time since 2004, Rubio was injured late in Friday’s home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rehabilitation time for such an injury usually is six to nine months, which means Rubio also likely will miss playing for Spain in the London Summer Olympics that begin in July.

On Thursday, the NBA introduced a commercial on its TNT doubleheader promoting Rubio’s passion, “unbridled joy” and ability to see things before they happen, which is why the commercial’s tag line is, “So he already knows El Futuro Es Big.”

That, btw, means The Future is Big.

On Friday, Rubio fell to the floor clutching his left knee and shin after he went to help defend Lakers star Kobe Bryant. He planted to his left foot in an attempt to block Bryant’s path with the ball and his knee appeared to buckle just before he collided with Bryant.

He was called for a foul on the play, an infraction that sent Bryant to the free-throw line for the eventual game-winning free throws in a 105-102 victory.

The Wolves not only lost the game on the play, they lost their starting point guard and a player who finally, after all these years, has made them internationally relevant again.

Rubio was helped to the bench, where he held his hand over his eyes while the team’s athletic trainer probed Rubio’s knee with his hands.

He tried to walk during an ensuing timeout, but only made it a few steps before the knee gave out on him and he was helped back to the bench. Teammates helped him to the locker room at the game’s conclusion and he later left the arena walking with the help of a friend.

As of Friday night, Rubio and fellow rookie Derrick Williams were the only Timberwolves who had played in all 41 games this season.

The Timberwolves have point guard depth, with Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea on the roster. But Ridnour has been rumored to be on the trading block, with Thursday’s deadline looming, and Barea hasn’t ever been a full-time starter.

Losing Rubio leaves a gaping hole in the backcourt for the Timberwolves and robs them of their young floor leader and one of the most exciting players in the league.

The Kevin Love Stomp (Video)





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For all the praise heaped upon Timberewolves All-Star Kevin Love for his effort and game, we can’t imagine he’ll receive much love after what transpired during Saturday night’s win over the Rockets.

His stomp of Luis Scola (check the video above) is sure to draw the eye of the league’s Punishment Police. Now we understand things got heated during the game, but here at the hideout we don’t condone the literal stomping of an opponent outside of a cage match.

Everyone offered up their own explanation of what happened, as Kent Youngblood and Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune detail here:

Neither Wolves coach Rick Adelman nor Rockets coach Kevin McHale said they saw it. But it appeared Scola got a good feel for Love’s size-19 sneakers. “Yeah, whatever the brand is,” Scola said.

The big question afterward was: Was it intentional? And, will it be something NBA head of discipline Stu Jackson takes a look at?

“He was kind of right there,” Love said. “I have size-19 feet. He just happened to be there. I had nowhere to go. I kind of tripped up. I just had nowhere to step. It was a heat-of-the-moment type play. He was there and it happened to be his face.”

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Adelman, Rubio … A Perfect Pairing

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For all the magic Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love or Rubio and Michael Beasley or even Rubio and Derrick Williams might make on the court, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ true dynamic duo this season should be Rubio and his new mentor.

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman holds the keys to Rubio’s rookie season, and his career to some extent, and so far is driving flawlessly so far. Much like Paul Silas did with LeBron James so many years ago, Adelman has to press all the right buttons early on with a player that is dealing with pressures, internal and external, that not every top draft pick has to deal with.

Rubio is only four games his journey and raised the stakes already with masterful performances in a loss to the Heat on Friday and Sunday’s win over the Mavericks, the two teams that played for the NBA title last season.

Did you see him work against the Mavericks? (If not, check the video above.) His 14-point, seven-assist, four-rebound showcase  included five consecutive points scored after the Mavs shredded a 15-point lead to just one.

It’s clearly a matter of time for Rubio to overtake Luke Ridnour as the starting point guard for the Timberwolves. But it’s up to Adelman to decide when to push that button. Adelman’s work with young point guards in the past — namely Jason Williams and also Mike Bibby in Sacramento — suggests that he is following a revised script that only he is privy to.

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No More Joking About The Timberwolves

– For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – One of our most cherished traditions here at the hideout is coming to an end and we didn’t even realize it until just now.

All those days spent joking at the expense of the Minnesota Timberwolves could soon be a thing of the past. That laughing at Timberwolves GM David Kahn for something he either said or did might be over.

And it has everything to do with the fact that the Timberwolves had arguably the best pound-for-pound offseason of any team in the league. Rick Adelman comes aboard as coach. Heralded rookies Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams join the rotation along with solid veteran pick up and Adelman fave Brad Miller. And All-Star Kevin Love (the bearded, slender gentleman in the video above) shed a few pounds and looks like he’s in All-Star form heading into the start of training camp.

After a couple of years of trying to fit the right players into the wrong system, Adelman will bring a talent-friendly scheme to a deep and promising roster that needed just the right fit in a head coach.

While it’s far too early to set foot on thin ice and predict this team will rise into the ranks of Western Conference playoff contenders, it is fair to say that they’ve got our full attention right now.

And they also have a huge decision to make regarding Love and his immediate future. With the “Derrick Rose Rule” that is included in the new collective bargaining agreement, Love’s next contract is a front-burner issue for Kahn. And Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune says the young star is thinking big:

Much like the Wolves were faced with a franchise-defining decision whether to break the bank to sign a youngster named Kevin Garnett 14 years ago, the Wolves soon will have to decide whether the face of the franchise right now will become THE centerpiece worthy of such a deal.

If the Wolves don’t sign Love to a contract extension in the coming weeks, he could become a restricted free agent next summer.

If someone offers him a max contract then, the Wolves simply could choose to match the offer then and keep him.

If Love decides not to sign an offer sheet with another team then, he could play the 2012-13 on a $6.1 million qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2013.

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Adelman In Minnesota?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Admit it: the Minnesota Timberwolves’ coaching search has gone on for so long you forgot they still haven’t replaced Kurt Rambis.

Any and every available coaching candidate worth his whistle has been in and out of the Twin Cities to speak with general manager David Kahn and the organization’s brass about the open spot. And you can finally add ex-Rockets coach Rick Adelman to that list, per Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune:

The Wolves brass worked for weeks to get Adelman to come in for more than a phone interview.  If he wants the job, and they can agree on a salary, the job is probably his.

The salary would probably have to be around $5 million per year.

Adelman joins Don Nelson and Sam Mitchell, likely, as the team’s top candidates.  The 65-year-old Adelman has taken time off during his career, and the thought is he might want to take another year off to spend time with his family.

Adelman’s career record is 945-616 in 20 seasons with Portland, Golden State, Sacramento and Houston. He favors an up-tempo style, which is said to be what the Wolves seek.

The list of candidates linked to the job is extensive.

In addition to Adelman, Nelson and Mitchell, names like Larry Brown, Terry Porter, Mike Woodson and Bernie Bickerstaff were all mentioned as possible replacements for Rambis. Of this group, only Woodson has landed elsewhere. He has already signed a contract to join Mike D’Antoni‘s staff in New York.

If Adelman is the choice, the Timberwolves have every right to be excited. He would improve the situation in Minnesota the minute he walks through the door.

Welcome To The Show, Ricky Rubio

MIAMI – Now we know something good has to be in store regarding the labor negotiations between the owners and players. There absolutely has to be something there.

The news that Ricky Rubio might finally headed to the NBA for the 2011-12 season confirms it for us, courtesy of Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, who confirmed that Rubio will make the jump from the Spanish league to :

Yes, he will.

A winding, often secretive 23-month saga over whether Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio ever will play for the Timberwolves is over.

Rubio on Tuesday signed an NBA contract to play with the team next season, a league source confirmed Wednesday night to the Star Tribune.

A news conference introducing him two years after he was drafted will be held when Rubio’s European season ends later this month.

Rubio signed May 31, the last day he could secure a contract for next season under the terms of the league’s current labor agreement.

By doing so, the 20-year-old potentially guaranteed himself millions of dollars more than if he waited to sign under a new labor agreement, whenever that might come.

The current agreement expires July 1 and NBA owners are seeking major financial concessions from players in difficult negotiations that could total hundreds of millions of dollars.

Thus ends the team’s pursuit to sign a teenage sensation who seemed reticent to play in cold, snowy Minnesota when the Wolves selected him fifth overall in the 2009 draft.

We understand not everyone is convinced, a somewhat skeptical Kevin Love, the Timberwolves’ All-Star power forward, took to Twitter last night to share a wide range of opinions on the topic:

– Ricky Rubio huh? I’ll believe it when I see it…

– Just thinking about pick and rolls…goodnight

– Pick….N….Rolls

But we’ll hold out hope on both fronts — that something breaks in the collective-bargaining discussions and that we will all get a chance to see Rubio sporting a NBA jersey next season.

Love’s Streak Snapped At 53

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Wilt Chamberlain‘s record of 227 straight double-doubles is safe for now.

All-Star Kevin Love was 53-games into his chase of Chamberlain’s record when it all came crashing down Sunday in Oakland. Love managed just six points and 12 rebounds in the Timberwolves’ blowout loss to the Warriors, a team he lit up for 37 points and 23 rebounds the last time he saw them (late last month).

To their credit, the Warriors (and specifically David Lee) were not about to watch Love abuse them again. And they took whatever precautions necessary to make sure that Love didn’t burn them again. They beat the brakes off of the Timberwolves, and not even a monster night from Love could have saved them.

Love’s streak took on a life of its own the past few months. He passed Moses Malone for the league’s longest streak since the 1976 ABA/NBA merger last week, and that milestone came complete with tributes (here and elsewhere) for a job well done.

But now that it’s over, Love’s priorities will no doubt shift, as he told the Star Tribune after it was all over:

“Now I can just focus on playing my game,” he said. “I was still doing it for myself, but a lot of it was for fans and everybody who wanted to watch me get those double doubles. I feel pretty happy with what I did. I don’t think we should look at it as the streak came to an end.

“It’s time to reflect on what I did and how I continue to prosper in this league.”

Love deserves his props for the accomplishment. Praise is due for Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis, who did the right thing by taking Love out and not letting him chase the record and pile up hollow numbers in a blowout loss.

We’re curious now to see what kind of streak Love can put together now. Let’s see if he can top his own mark of 53 straight between now and whenever he could make that happen next season.