By: Sam Ekstrom | KFAN.com
The ‘A’ topic? Shabazz Muhammad’s dismissal from the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program.
The Wolves’ first-round pick was removed from the program for illegally bringing a female guest into his New Jersey hotel room. Muhammad will have to attend the same symposium with next year’s rookie class to make up for his ejection.
Said Saunders, “When you go into any situation where there are rules and guidelines that are set down, you have to abide by them. That shows discipline. As I explained to him, part of being successful at our level is discipline, both off the court and on the court.”
According to Saunders, Muhammad was remorseful in a phone conversation following the incident.
“He was very apologetic; just felt extremely disappointed in himself,” said Saunders. “Then we talked a lot about his situation and his past. You have to take away this negative and turn it into a positive.”
Muhammad will not be punished further by the organization.
PEKOVIC STILL UNSIGNED
Monday was Day 33 of Nikola Pekovic’s “contract watch,” and things are still relatively quiet.
Saunders said the club has not talked recently to Pekovic’s agent Jeff Schwartz, but believes that talks with other members of Pekovic’s management have been positive.
“I think it’s been more of an education process from both sides to educate on where they believe each is at as far as offers, so we’re moving in a positive direction,” Saunders said.
There is apparently no strict timeline for Pekovic to ink his contract – reportedly standing around four years, $48 million – but Saunders would like the big man present when training camp begins Oct. 1.
“I believe he wants to be here. I believe that we are the best situation for him,” said Saunders.
“When you’re not signed, you want to be signed. You don’t want to be walking around without a contract. That’s like having the Powerball in your pocket. You don’t want to throw those jeans in the washer and, all of a sudden, you don’t have it anymore.”
Pekovic will not be playing for Montenegro in the European Championships due to his contractual uncertainty.
---Saunders confirmed that 2012 second-round pick Robbie Hummel, 2013 second-round pick Lorenzo Brown, and 28-year-old NBDL journeyman Othyus Jeffers have been invited to training camp. They will all compete for the Wolves’ 15th roster spot.
---Saunders claims the Wolves have not extended a camp invitation to undrafted guard Seth Curry as several reports indicated.
---The Wolves will be keeping an eye on Ricky Rubio and Alexei Shved as they compete in the European Championships for Spain and Russia, respectively. When asked if he was concerned about the extra wear and tear on his players, Saunders said he has good faith that head coach Rick Adelman will manage minutes wisely.
By: Sam Ekstrom | KFAN.com
The Wolves fulfilled their need for a shooting guard by signing former Thunder guard Kevin Martin to a four-year, $28 million deal on July 11. Just over one month later, president of basketball operations Flip Saunders introduced him to the Twin Cities media.
“Our players, whether it’s Kevin Love or Ricky Rubio, have great respect for Kevin,” said Saunders. “It’s great to have a veteran in your locker room that can send the message of Coach Adelman to the players.”
Said Martin, now playing for his fourth NBA team, “It was a very easy decision to come up to Minnesota. I realized that I made the right decision when I saw Rick Adelman and he gave me a hug.”
Martin, 30, began his career in 2004 with the Sacramento Kings under Rick Adelman; then found himself playing under Adelman again from 2009-11 in Houston.
A trend seems to be developing. Martin, acquired in a sign-and-trade with Oklahoma City, reunites with Adelman once again as the venerable coach begins his third season at the helm in Minnesota.
Martin should have no trouble acclimating to the Adelman offense, having played under him for four total seasons. Said Saunders, “We’re bringing in a guy who, outside of Coach Adelman and three assistant coaches, knows the offense better than anybody.”
According to Martin, Saunders has told him he’ll be expected to score around 17-18 points per game for the Wolves, who were 20th in offensive production last season.
“No pressure doing that. I can do that in my sleep,” said Martin, whose career scoring average sits at 17.8 PPG, but has exceeded 20 PPG in five different seasons.
“It’s a great team, and I feel very blessed to play with a team of this caliber.”
Saunders loves the perimeter threat Martin provides as he comes off a career best three-point shooting percentage (.426) last season. But while the offensive numbers seem like a given, Martin’s ability to defend opposing two-guards has been questioned.
Saunders admitted that Martin may not be the best one-on-one defender in the NBA, but mentioned that defense isn’t simply an individual skill. “It’s not one-on-one. It’s team defense,” Saunders said.
Martin acknowledged that defense must be a priority, especially for a young team amidst a nine-year playoff drought.
“To make noise and get to where we want to be, we need to strive to be a top-five, top-six defensive team,” said Martin, who was part of Oklahoma City’s top-10 defense last season.
The nine-year veteran was traded to the Thunder before last season as part of the deal that brought rising star James Harden to Houston. This set up a number of comparisons between Martin and the All-Star Harden that Saunders considers unfair.
“He’s different,” said Saunders of his new acquisition. “He’s not Harden. He’s Kevin Martin… He plays the right way.”
Martin, wearing No. 23, will make his Wolves debut on Oct. 30 in the season-opener against Orlando. He’ll face his former teammates two days later when the Wolves play Oklahoma City on Nov. 1.
Timberwolves Set to Tip Off Their 25th Season on Oct. 30 vs. the Orlando Magic at Target Center
Full-Season Memberships Still Available For as Low As $4 Per Game;
82-Game Schedule Highlighted by 13 National Television Appearances
Minneapolis/St. Paul – The Minnesota Timberwolves will tip off their 25th regular season in the NBA by hosting the Orlando Magic at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at Target Center. Full-season memberships for as low as $4 per game are still available by visiting www.timberwolves.com or by calling 612-673-1234.