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Wolves Owner Sees NBA Glory Ahead

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June 8, 2016


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Glen Taylor is watching the NBA playoffs this spring, including the Finals between the Cavs and Warriors, and thinking about his team becoming a force.

The Wolves owner hasn’t seen his franchise in the playoffs since 2004 but he has a roster of young players that every basketball expert on the planet acknowledges is very promising.  The group is led by the NBA Rookies of the Year the last two seasons, forward Andrew Wiggins and center Karl-Anthony Towns.

Asked about the likelihood his club could make a deep playoff run within four years, Taylor said:  “I don’t think it’s next year but I certainly think the potential is there.”

Glen Taylor (photo courtesy of Minnesota Timberwolves).

Glen Taylor (photo courtesy of Minnesota Timberwolves).

Then Taylor thought for a second and talked about a longer period of time where he envisions the Wolves challenging for NBA titles.  “I would say over the next 10 years because of the age(s) of our players we should be a challenging team in many of those years,” he told Sports Headliners on Monday.

The Wolves’ roster has nine players 26 years old or younger.  Wiggins is 21 and Towns 20.  Even veteran point guard Ricky Rubio is only 25.  Rubio’s starting teammate in the backcourt, Zach LaVine, is only 21.

When Taylor watches the playoffs and the teams making deep runs including the Cavs and Warriors, he sees contrasts with his club.  The Wolves, he said, must develop better team defense, improve their three-point shooting and be able to make the biggest of plays.  And while Taylor likes the nucleus of his starters, he sees a need for a deeper and better group of reserves coming off the bench.

The talent pool figures to improve this offseason.  The Wolves will have the No. 5 pick in the NBA Draft later this month and Taylor said new basketball bosses Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden are sorting out options.  Those options include who to draft, or whether to trade the pick.

Thibodeau is president of basketball operations.  Layden is general manager.  “They’re very thorough,” Taylor said.  “They’re doing a lot of work.  They work good as a team.”

Taylor said the Wolves have moved beyond the mission of prioritizing the acquisition of young talent and now will give more emphasis to older players via free agency or trades.  All tools could be in play this summer, and there is ongoing speculation Thibodeau wants to acquire a veteran or two from the Bulls where he coached before coming to Minneapolis.

Whether 40-year-old Kevin Garnett returns for another season is undecided.  Earlier this spring Taylor was interested in talking to Garnett but the timing wasn’t right because Garnett’s mother-in-law was in hospice and recently died.  “I just kind of got off of it,” Taylor said.  “I think the next communications will probably be between Thibs and KG.  That’s probably the more important one, and that’s what I have suggested to both of them that they get some time together.”

Taylor said he and a Chinese businessman expect to finalize the sale of a five percent share of the franchise this week.  Taylor declined to identify the new investor, but the two men were introduced by a mutual friend awhile ago and then meetings developed.

About 10 days ago transactions were completed and approved by the NBA involving a 9.5 percent share of the franchise to Meyer Orbach from New Jersey.

Worth Noting

The Timberwolves began play in 1989 but in more than 25 years the franchise has never advanced to the NBA Finals.  Contrast that with the Minneapolis Lakers who won five pro championships from 1949-1954.

The coach of all five championship teams was John Kundla who still lives in Minneapolis and turns 100 on July 3.

Archives in the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting in St. Louis Park include several moments of a 1959 Minneapolis Lakers-Detroit Pistons radio broadcast.  Ray Christensen, who made his fame broadcasting Gophers games, does the play-by-play.

Sympathies to family and friends of Bill McMoore who died Monday morning at age 90 in Plymouth.   A Minnesotan for most of his life, McMoore was one of the first African-American football players at the University of Minnesota.  McMoore made a career of leadership in the Minneapolis public schools including tenure as athletic director for the city’s high schools.

Former Gophers basketball captain Al Nuness said McMoore was revered for his pioneering career.  “He was very, very well respected and was Mr. University of Minnesota to many athletes including African-Americans,” Nuness told Sports Headliners.

McMoore was a member of the University Alumni Association board of directors, former president of the “M” Club and is a member of the “M” Club Hall of Fame.  Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Peter’s AME Church in south Minneapolis.

The goal posts in the new U.S. Bank Stadium were installed Monday.  Upon request, individual Vikings are touring their new home but as a team the players won’t take the field until warm-ups for the first preseason game in August.

The city of Minneapolis has inspected and approved the stadium, and provided notification of the findings to the building’s general contractor, M.A. Mortenson.  That means organizations such as SMG (the building’s stadium management company) and the Vikings’ ticket personnel can move into the facility.

For the 51st consecutive year the Vikings will hold training camp on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato.  The Vikings report to camp Thursday, July 28, and hold their first team practice Friday, July 29.  The Vikings will have an evening practice for fans Saturday, August 6 in Blakeslee Stadium followed by a team introduction and fireworks.

Studies are showing soccer ranks No. 1 in concussions as measured by percentage of participants.  Football ranks behind not only soccer but a few other sports.

Twins shortstop Eduardo Nunez, who never hit more than five home runs during six previous MLB seasons, already has nine.  He has homered in four of his last five games including two in last night’s win over the Marlins.  He is hitting .400 in his last 13 games and has hit safely in 12 of the games.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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