HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
New Additions Have Timberwolves Feeling Positive
By Stephen Litel
The Minnesota Timberwolves thrilled the hometown fans in their first preseason game Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. After two years and numerous reports stating he would never wear a Timberwolves uniform, Ricky Rubio made his debut in Minnesota’s colors, wowing the crowd with his passing skills. Rubio was not the only person to make his debut, as Derrick Williams—the highest draft pick in team history—and new head coach Rick Adelman joined him in representing Minnesota for the first time.
“I knew we had a lot of young players,” said Adelman at the team’s media day. “When we played them last year, I was always surprised. I thought they should have won more games, but I mean, you’re not here, you’re not coaching them and you don’t know why things happened. But the last two years in Houston, we went from having two superstars to being one of the favorites to being basically a young group and having guys take over roles that they weren’t brought in to do. I found I really enjoyed the experience coaching that group because you saw the growth, you saw them grow into roles, you saw them grow into leadership roles. You always want a real talented team. You always want a chance to win everything. But I also know learning from that experience, I want to see if we can turn this thing around. I think we can build something that is positive and is moving forward and that really excites me. We have a really good experienced staff who feels the same way.”
Houston Rockets Get Their Center
By Bill Ingram
The Houston Rockets have had just one goal in mind through the lockout-hurried NBA free agency period, and that is to sign a starting center.
Their list of targets was fairly easy to call, as it included the three biggest names in free agency. They signed restricted free agent center Marc Gasol to an offer sheet, which was promptly matched by the Memphis Grizzlies, failed to get an audience with for Dallas Maverick Tyson Chandler, and seemed close to landing Denver Nuggets free agent Nene, but in the end they failed on all counts.
There has been much internal debate about the next best move, as the marketplace didn’t hold many good centers, and those that were available were only marginally better than some of the guys the Rockets already have in camp, though perhaps with less upside.
Nets Find Lopez’s Replacement In Okur
By Alex Raskin
The New Jersey Nets wasted little time in replacing center Brook Lopez, who fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot during Thursday’s preseason loss to the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. General manager Billy King sent a 2015 second-round pick to the Utah Jazz in exchange for veteran center Mehmet Okur.
Okur will likely start in place of Lopez, who has yet to miss a regular season game in his first three NBA seasons. The 32-year-old Okur obviously previously played with point guard Deron Williams in Utah, and he joins shooting guard Anthony Morrow and forward Shawne Williams as the team’s triumvirate of 3-point marksmen. Okur has hit 37.7% of his attempts from beyond the arc in his career while scoring 13.7 ppg and grabbing 7.1 RPG.
“Mehmet will give us added scoring and size,” said King. “His ability to shoot the three will help space the floor.”
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