Posts Tagged ‘Wolves’

Report: Saunders will not return to Timberwolves this season

Flip Saunders will not return to coach the Timberwolves this season, owner Glen Taylor told Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Friday in the latest sad update as Saunders battles cancer.

Saunders, also the president of basketball operations, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in June. He has been  hospitalized since early September.

Asked if he expected Saunders to return, Taylor paused, then said: “Not this year. I just think his illness, I mean, it’s serious. At this point, if he came back I still think he’d have a hard time to recover all his energy and all that because he has been in the hospital for a long time.”

From Zgoda:

Doctors treating Saunders called his disease treatable and curable when the Wolves announced his diagnosis in mid-August. At the time, the team said Saunders intended to continue working while he received chemotherapy treatments, which he had completed by the time he was hospitalized in September.

Taylor called the developments “an unbelievable situation we hadn’t anticipated going into this season” and said he talked with the team’s players about Saunders’ condition and his influence on all of them as coach, chief basketball decision-maker and franchise part-owner during a team dinner at Taylor’s Mankato home earlier this month.

“I don’t care how old you get or how experienced you get, these friendships that are in your lives are so important,” said Taylor, who has employed Saunders two different times and known him since shortly after he bought the team in 1994. “They do affect your heart and your mind on a daily basis.”

Taylor said he and Saunders had talked enough throughout the summer that there has been a “blueprint” to follow that includes such things as buying out young forward Anthony Bennett’s contract before training camp began.

The Timberwolves had previously named Sam Mitchell the interim coach and expanded the duties of general manager Milt Newton in an attempt to fill the void in Saunders’ absence.

Knicks, Wolves Pursuing Barea

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A source close to free agent guard J.J. Barea said Saturday that the Knicks and Timberwolves are both in pursuit of the 27-year-old, who starred in the postseason last spring during the Mavericks’ run to the NBA title.

The Knicks, according to the source, offered Barea a two-year deal. By using the amnesty provision on Saturday to waive guard Chauncey Billups and dealing forward Ronny Turiaf to Washington as part of the three-team deal that sent Tyson Chandler to New York, the Knicks technically fell under the cap, and thus lost their ability to use the mid-level exception starting at $5 million. They could use the new “room” exception for teams that are below the tax threshold that starts at $2.5 million.

Minnesota has not made a specific offer to Barea, though they are talking about contract parameters that would be in excess of the “room” amount, the source said. The Timberwolves could be looking for a mentor for their high-profile rookie guard Ricky Rubio, who finally came over to the NBA after starring in Europe as a teenager. Rubio was taken fifth overall by the Wolves in 2009 but remained in Europe until this summer.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks, keeping with their desire to maximize their cap space for the summer of 2012, have only offered Barea a one-year deal, the source said. That decision left Barea feeling “betrayed,” the source said.

Barea, who had become a key contributor for Dallas the past few seasons, was outstanding in the playoffs for the Mavericks, averaging 8.9 points and 3.4 assists in 18.6 minutes per game in the postseason. He shot almost 42 percent from behind the three-point line, and his 22-point, eight-assist effort in the clinching game over the Lakers in the second round so frustrated L.A.’s Andrew Bynum that Bynum cheap-shotted Barea in the closing minutes of the Mavericks’ Game 4 rout, earning an ejection and five-game suspension at the beginning of this season.

After waiving Billups, the Knicks clearly need help at the point. Their current starter is second-year guard Toney Douglas, though first-round pick Iman Shumpert could see some time there as well this season. And Barea would be an ideal distributor in Mike D’Antoni‘s high-octane offensive attack.

Kahn travels, Ridnour ‘didn’t’

CHICAGO — Timberwolves president David Kahn made a pit stop at United Center Tuesday night, stopping on his way back from Minnesota’s game in Boston Monday night and a meeting in New York Tuesday morning. Kahn said he hadn’t yet seen the Toronto Raptors in person this season, and the Wolves have Toronto at Target Center later this month.

When it was casually mentioned to Kahn that his team still needs a “closer” — the Wolves lost to the Celtics 96-93 after leading 85-77 with 6:55 left — he challenged that conventional wisdom. “Michael was our closer last night,” Kahn said, referring to forward Michael Beasley, who scored six points in the final 1:48. Kahn was more bothered by the Wolves’ 17 turnovers, which led directly to 19 Boston points. Among them: a 5-second inbounds turnover, a shot clock violation in the fourth quarter and Martell Webster stepping out of bounds.

Actually, the Wolves haven’t been very good in close games this season: 4-15 when the margin is less than 10 points, 2-12 when it is six points or less. But losing close games has to be considered progress for a team that went 4-39 in games decided by 10 points or more. They were 11-28 in 2009-10 when the margin was single digits.

Kahn also said that the Wolves were sending to the NBA office for review tape of Luke Ridnour’s traveling call with 9.5 seconds left. Ridnour broke to the basket and received a pass with a chance to put Minnesota up 95-94. But he took what sure looked like three steps (no dribble) and it was called that way. The Wolves had to foul and when they finally caught up with Nate Robinson in the backcourt with 4.6 seconds left, the backup Celtics guard sank both foul shots. Then Beasley missed an off-balance 3-pointer.

Kahn said that, when he saw Ridnour’s cut to the rim in replay, he wasn’t convinced it was a travel. Even though Boston’s Ray Allen blocked Ridnour’s layup attempt, the Wolves would have had the ball with 9.5 seconds, still down 94-93. Again, though, the Wolves are just seeking clarification — they’re not protesting the outcome. Because, y’know, no one ever successfully protests anyway.