When my first Timberwolves media day began, I had mixed emotions. To start, I was just ecstatic to be there. Once the pressers began, and the voice recorders were all out, it finally started to sink in how close we were to getting the real season started.
Training camp starts in Mankato today. The Wolves have their first home preseason game a week from yesterday, and play their first NBA team in the Target Center a week from Wednesday. I've gone from anxiously awaiting the start of the NBA season to wondering where all this time has gone.
It was a long day, but there's plenty to report on. We'll go player-by-player as they came in:
Pek was the first one to walk through the door, and he managed to provide one of the more interesting soundbites from media day.
He mentioned his workout regimen hasn't changed much, aside from one key difference, "Maybe some outside shots, maybe some 15-17 footers. I'd like maybe to take more."
This really surprised me, and I'm looking forward to seeing this in training camp and the preseason, if we do see it at all.
Turiaf may have won the "best interview" competition today. His goal is to lead the second unit, and get them to change the flow of the game when they do come in.
"I feel like the second unit and the people coming off the bench should have and will have this identify of being animals and just changing the flow of the game," he said. "I think that we have guys that can get in the passing lanes, we have guys who can block shots, we have guys that can pass."
As it has been mentioned via social media and other outlets, Derrick Williams has apparently lost some weight. In fact, he claimed to be down to 235 -- 10 pounds lighter than he was at Arizona. Though he mentioned fatigue as a factor, it could also be a way to get him more minutes at the small forward position, with the return of Kevin Love at power forward.
When asked if it had anything to do with a potential position switch, he responded, "Yeah, that's accurate," but then went on to say, "It's not to necessarily prove I'm trying to play the three. It's being out there and being able to be in a position to score, or defend, or whatever it may be. Whatever coach asks me to do, I'm going to do it. At some spots, playing the four is better for me."
Johnson, like a few other players on the roster, claimed to go through a weight change in the offseason. In this case, CJ claims he has put on weight, 20 pounds of muscle to be exact. The weight change wasn't as noticeable physically as some of the other players on the roster.
He cited the weight gain as a way to keep up with bigs like Al Jefferson in games, as well as Pekovic in practice.
Something Dieng wanted to get across was his high level of confidence coming into camp, and understandably so. Between winning the national title, getting selected in the first round of the draft, and now competing for playing time as a late first round pick, it's been a pretty good year for him.
"I think I'm ready," He said. "I think I belong here and I think I'm ready to contribute."
Not surprisingly, the majority of the questions for the Wolves coach centered around the uncertainty of his return this season. He quickly addressed these issues.
"It really took quite a long time. I remember last year I said I wanted to make up my mind fairly quick. Well, this is not a situation to do that."
He wanted to be sure that everything was going to be set to go, but he was pretty intent the entire time on coming back. A big part of that had to do with a feeling of "unfinished business". To this point, he hasn't really had a chance to coach his main core for an entire season, and that's something he's hoping he can finally get done this year.
Just about everyone who went up to the podium today didn't want to discuss last year, Kevin Love especially.
"We all know what happened last year. We just want to move forward and and take care of unfinished business."
Love was pretty clear that he didn't want to discuss last season, and in his defense, he likely hasn't heard too many questions not related to the Wolves' struggles or his hand injury in quite some time. It would probably get frustrating. Still, it's clear he's ready to do something about it.
There were a few players (Williams, Johnson, Muhammad) who came into media day and claimed to have gained or lost weight, but Love clearly trimmed his body down. His body type looked to be similar to what it was two years ago, when he had his best season yet.
"Its really day-to-day. Get better every single day. Woke up with a great attitude and just continue to get better," He said. "I learned early that players are made in the summer, so that was really it."
He still has that smile. It's as if Kahn himself drafted him. Corey didn't say much, but he may have had the best quote of the night.
"We weren't winning too much when I was here, but I wasn't very good when I was here either."
With Kevin Love coming back, it might mean less minutes for Dante Cunningham, who was put into a bigger role than he may have expected when he was traded a year ago for Wayne Ellington. Even with the return of Love, he doesn't sound too worried at this point.
"I wouldn't say my role is changing. I would say I'm going to go out and do the same thing I did last year," He said. "Hustle, run, hit the floor, and just give it up every night."
With the way the roster is set up be tough to know what kind of minutes Cunningham will be looking at until camp starts, or better yet, until the season starts.
It's clear that Adelman and Martin have a strong, strong relationship, and that relationship is the main reason why Martin is here. He mentioned talking to the Wolves coach in past years about playing for him again. Now that they are back together, he wants to use use his past successes and experiences to get Minnesota some victories.
"I view myself as the shooting guard that they've been looking for for a long time," he said. "Hopefully at the end of all this, I can say that I was one of the best shooting guards to ever put on a jersey here."
Nevermind. Shved won the award for quote of the day.
When asked if he had put on weight in the offseason, he replied, "The weight is the same, but I make more muscles."
Ricky probably had the most genuine positivity about the team this year as a whole. As the team's leader, this is going to be important going into training camp.
"I was excited to come because it looks like we can do something big this year," he said. "See how we can fit all together."
While he showed clear frustration in not making the playoffs for the second straight year (something he hasn't done in his near-decade of professional basketball), he sees more than just hope for his team.
"We can put this franchise in another level."
With Luke Ridnour gone, Barea's role should be more defined with the Timberwolves coming into this season. Even with the backup point guard job locked up, it's pretty likely that he'll still see time in the backcourt paired up with Ricky Rubio.
"Whatever they need me to do, I'm going to do it. Either coming off the bench, if I have to start sometimes, but I'm going to bring a lot of energy like I always do."
It's been a tough road for the Wolves lottery pick since getting drafted. After a predominantly negative reaction to the Wolves' selection of the former high school standout, he added insult to injury by getting sent home from the NBA's rookie program in early August. It was reported that Kevin Martin had reached out to Muhammad shortly after.
"You always have to carry yourself as a professional. Stuff we do you gets out," Muhammad said.
Muhammad was the final individual at media day to speak, and also the final player claiming weight loss to their offseason resume. He credited a better diet and workout out to this improvement, and plans to take advice from the veterans to try to improve his game.