Wolves wrap up training camp with public scrimmage, team heads to Europe for preseason games and more
Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis offered a positive review of Wednesday night's scrimmage at Taylor Center, saying, "a lot of players did a lot of good things."
Rookie forward Wes Johnson, battling back from a nagging hamstring injury, might have been at the top of Rambis' list. Johnson, the No. 4 pick in the draft, displayed a smooth shooting touch, knocking down several outside shots within the framework of Rambis' triangle offense.
"It felt really good to be out there competing," Johnson said. "I hadn't played in a game since July (rookie summer league in Las Vegas). I'm trying to learn this offense at a fast pace, but I'm getting it."
The Timberwolves wrapped up their five-day training camp with a scrimmage Wednesday night that was open to the public.
Michael Beasley showed that he’s the most athletic of the Timberwolves, and probably will be the team’s leading scorer. Rookie Wesley Johnson and free agent Luke Ridnour both showed smooth strokes from the perimeter, and Darko Milicic may be able to offer some post offense and defense that’s been lacking here for a long time.
Webster had some success on his perimeter shots, and he went to the basket hard a couple of times, getting to the free-throw line and converting those points. He asked the coaches a lot of questions, still unsure where he and his teammates are supposed to be on the floor.
"He’s struggling to learn the way we play," coach Kurt Rambis said.
The Wolves leave Thursday afternoon for a pair of European games that open their preseason schedule Monday in London against the Lakers and Wednesday in Paris against the Knicks.
They will stop in Portland, Maine, to practice and have dinner and will arrive in London midday Friday.
Also from Zgoda:
• Wolves boss David Kahn left Wednesday morning for a family event in Israel and will join the team in London this weekend. The Wolves are trying to get Ricky Rubio's parents to fly from Barcelona to Paris next week to meet owner Glen Taylor.
• The Wolves likely will make a roster cut or two before they leave for London.
That won't be his only goal. At 24, Brewer is now one of the veterans on the league's youngest team and is looking to provide some much-needed leadership on a trip he sees as the perfect bonding exercise.
"I feel like I have to be more of a leader on this team. They're a bunch of young guys and these guys are learning this offense, and I've been through it for a year," Brewer said. "So I feel like I have to have a bigger role as a leader. But that's not a bad thing, it's a good thing."
So is going overseas, he said, even though it means a lot of hours on planes and in hotels.
"You've got to have your chemistry, you've got to learn your teammates," said the forward, who averaged a career-high 13 points last season after missing much of 2008-09 because of a knee injury. "And it's always good to get to know each other. And what better way to do it than to go to another country?"
Love was a valuable reserve on Team USA, providing rebounding and hustle off the bench.
"It was a great experience for him," said Timberwolves assistant GM Tony Ronzone, who was also on the Team USA staff. "He learned that it's not what's on the back of your jersey, it's what's on the front. He learned to come off the bench. He learned to play his role and he learned to accept it."
The Timberwolves are already reaping the benefits.
"He's been great," Rambis said. "His just overall professionalism has gone up 10 notches. He's playing hard all the time. He's doing the right things, leading by example."
From Eric Nelson/WCCO:
Minnesota might be the perfect landing spot for Beasley because the Timberwolves desperately needs star-power. Beasley might be the team's shining light.
"There's a lot of doubters out there -- a lot of naysayers. I'm not mad at them -- everyone is entitled to their opinion. I feel like I've been counted out," said Beasley.
Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis said that Beasley’s inside-out game could make him a power forward or small forward, depending on the matchup.
"It’s a big asset for him to be able to play two positions," Rambis said. "Playing the 3 and the 4 is a challenge offensively and a challenge defensively. If he wants to excel, that’s a way he can do it."
On Wednesday afternoon, Timberwolves players met with a referee, who informed them that, among other changes, the league intends to crack down on "overt" gestures this season.
That means swinging a fist in the air, clapping sarcastically at and running up to an official, or even jumping up and down in disbelief to protest an official's call will earn a player a technical foul and an accompanying fine ($1,000 each for the first five offenses last season).
If anyone in the Wolves organization needs advice on international travel, the club has an in-house expert. Ronzone, 46, believes he has conducted basketball business in "over 70 countries." The results of all the overseas missions have made Ronzone a leading authority in international basketball, but he has cut back on his international treks to devote more time to his new role.
Ronzone, hired in May, is the No. 2 man in personnel behind Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn. He is the man who recommended that the Pistons select Darko Milicic with the No. 2 pick in the 2003 NBA draft ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
The 7-foot Milicic was regarded as a draft bust before the Wolves acquired him late last season and revived his career.