Jace Frederick / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Karl-Anthony Towns said the Timberwolves were "walking" through much of training camp last year. "Sometimes crawling," he said. That has nothing to do with their pace or effort, but that's about the speed at which players were absorbing Tom Thibodeau's system at the start of the coach's first season in Minnesota. Fast forward a year and by the first day of training camp, Towns said, players already were "jogging," a marked improvement. That's what consistency can do for you, something this franchise hasn't had in a long time.
MINNEAPOLIS — Twenty-two times last season, the Timberwolves possessed a double-digit lead only to lose the game. It was an epidemic, and a costly one. Flip those 22 games from losses to wins, and Minnesota makes the playoffs. So coach Tom Thibodeau went to work in the offseason looking to diagnose the issues that prevented the Wolves from closing games out.
MINNEAPOLIS — In his mind, he's earned it. Andrew Wiggins believes he's worth the five-year extension worth nearly $150 million he signed with the Timberwolves on Wednesday, which comes into play following this season and theoretically keeps him in Minnesota through the 2022-23 campaign. He thinks his play has warranted that type of deal. The people who matter most tend to agree.
SHANGHAI — Life will come at the Timberwolves fast once the regular season kicks off in two weeks. Minnesota travels to San Antonio to take on Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs to open the regular season, then returns home to face the defensively dominant Jazz before going to Oklahoma City to battle the reloaded Thunder. The Timberwolves' first four games that count are against playoff teams from a year ago. That's not easy, or ideal, for a group just trying to find its rotation, roles and footing.
ANAHEIM, Calif.—It looked like Tom Thibodeau chose toughness, leadership and defensive prowess over outside shooting when the Timberwolves used much of their remaining salary cap this summer to sign Taj Gibson to a two-year contract instead of signing a sharpshooter. Maybe Thibodeau can have his cake and eat it too?
ANAHEIM, Calif.—While Saturday night, Sept. 30, marked the start of the Timberwolves' preseason schedule, it also means that it's one-third complete. Minnesota's preseason game against the Lakers in Anaheim is one of just three preseason contests, with the other two coming next week against the Warriors in China. That's a significant drop from last season, when the Wolves played seven exhibition contests.
SAN DIEGO — Timberwolves forward Gorgui Dieng said his college coach, Rick Pitino, "probably wasn't aware" of the misconduct that cost the Louisville coach his job. Pitino was placed on unpaid leave by the university Wednesday. In a statement to ESPN, Pitino's attorneys said the coach had "in effect, been fired." Louisville was one of the schools linked to allegations made by the FBI on Tuesday that an Adidas employee funneled payments to three basketball players to get them to commit to certain programs that had apparel deals with the sportswear company.
SAN DIEGO — Taj Gibson made a point to single out one player after the Timberwolves' first practice of training camp Saturday, Sept. 23 — Shabazz Muhammad. "He kind of set the tone in my eyes of how hard he was playing and moving his feet, and that's where we're going to need," Gibson said. "Every day you're probably not going to have it, but then it's going to be up to your teammates to set the tone and get you going. And today I felt like he got everybody really going, and the coaching staff saw it, too."
MINNEAPOLIS—A win in this year's WNBA Finals would give the Lynx four titles in seven years. It would tie them for most championships of all time with the Houston Comets, the WNBA's first dynasty that won the first four titles in league history, and only add to maybe the most dominant run in league history. The Lynx take on the Los Angeles Sparks starting Tuesday, Sept. 26, at Williams Arena. It's a rematch of last season's Finals, which the Sparks won in five games.
SAN DIEGO — The Timberwolves were set to take off for San Diego on Friday afternoon, Sept. 22, and they aren't coming back for a while. Minnesota opens training camp Saturday, Sept. 23, in San Diego, where it will practice until Friday before heading to Anaheim, Calif., to play its preseason opener against the Lakers. After that, it's wheels up for a week-long trip to China, where the Wolves will play two exhibitions against Golden State before finally returning home. That's 18 days straight on the road.