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Taylor's Expectations a Challenge to Players

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Charley Walters had this tidbit on the Wolves in his Saturday column (right next to what appeared to me to be baseless rumormongering about the Vikings' quarterback situation):

The Timberwolves, who begin official practices next week in Mankato, Minn., have 14 players with guaranteed contracts. The most allowed by the NBA is 15. The team is not looking to make any trades

Owner Glen Taylor, on expectations this season: "Last year, when we put this group together, it was a year to build, to get experience. This year is different; just because last year we let a guy play a lot of minutes, if he doesn't produce this year, he won't play a lot of minutes. It will be more on productivity than youth. It'll be winning rather than getting experience."

I'm ridiculously excited for this season to start, so the reminder that training camp is about to begin is welcome.

The no trade isn't terribly surprising. Chris Richard is still out there, Shaun Livingston to Minny talk is still alive, and Blake Ahearn is likely to be brought to camp.

But the real reason I was happy to read this was the Taylor quote. The team is so flush with young prospects and position battles that the only guys guaranteed minutes are Al and Mike Miller.

Telfair, Foye, McCants, Carney, Brewer and even Gomes and Love will have to earn their minutes through consistency and aversion to mistakes. Wittman never seemed to have a set rotation last year (due in large part to injuries and transactions) so I'd imagine he'll want to set something fairly consistent early on. But, the minute someone starts throwing away possessions or blowing defensive assignments, look for their quick exit from the floor.

I don't think Taylor expects his team to make a run at the title (or else I'd have to put his delusion on par with Congress right about now) but it's fair to keep raising expectations on the youngsters. The last thing this franchise needs is an acceptance of constant rebuilding and losing amongst its players.