2015-16 Season

Selected quotes from Timberwolves Media Day, part one


The Minnesota Timberwolves held media day at the Target Center on Monday morning. It was our first chance to meet a few of the new players (notably, Andre Miller, Tayshaun Prince, and Damjan Rudez) as well as an opportunity to catch up with so many of the veterans who disappeared following season-ending injuries in the spring (Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad, and of course, Kevin Garnett).

This is part one of a two part post. Featured below are General Manager (and acting Decision-Maker-in-Chief) Milt Newton, interim head coach Sam Mitchell, Kevin Garnett, Tyus Jones, Tayshaun Prince, Andre Miller, Andrew Wiggins, Adreian Payne, Zach LaVine, Nikola Pekovic, and Nemanja Bjelica. Check out part two here.

General Manager Milt Newton

On expectations for Ricky Rubio this coming season:

“A lot has been made about Ricky and shooting the basketball. We want Ricky to take open shots. We don’t want Ricky to have to prove to someone that he is a better shooter. We want Ricky to be Ricky, the facilitator that he’s known to be – running our offense, defending, being a leader on the floor. But with regards to Ricky trying to prove to people that he’s a shooter, that shouldn’t be his role. His role is to lead our team, hit the open player, and when he has an open shot, have the confidence to knock it down.”

On utilizing the NBA Development League:

“We haven’t used it that much in the past, and that’s something we’re trying to rectify. If there’s an opportunity to utilize the D-League, we will do that, with Tyus (Jones) especially. But it can’t be a position where you send him down and he plays 14, 16, 20 minutes per game, which was the situation last year for us. We wanted to use the D-League, but the team we were affiliated with couldn’t guarantee our guys were going to get the minutes we thought they needed to develop. So we felt it was better to keep our players here, let them practice, and get involved with our coaching staff.”

On one-for-one affiliation being a goal of the NBA, as well as a timeframe for the Wolves to have their own Development League team:

“It’d have to be right for both parties… I was one of the people initially who helped found the D-League, and that was part of the thought process. To have each franchise have their own development team for development of players and staff. I see that as a very positive thing to have, but it has to be the right situation. You’d rather have a team that’s close by, where you don’t have to get on a plane or drive six or seven hours to see your players play…

“We thought we had an opportunity (to get our own affiliate), but that particular team was re-signed by their NBA team. But it is something we continue to look into.”

Interim Head Coach Sam Mitchell

On three pointers:

“You have to earn the right to shoot threes… When I was in Toronto, we had things that guys had to do on a day-to-day basis in practice if they were going to be allowed to shoot threes. Just because you do those things, you still must shoot a certain percentage in practice. If you put the time and work in, then you’ll have the right to shoot them.”

“But there’s not a lot of plays that you can run to get open threes. They kind of have to come in flow. You see it all the time at the end of games – when a team needs a three, how many wide open three-pointers do they get?”

On balancing the playing time for young players and veterans, especially in end-of-game situations:

“There’s no shortcut to these young guys getting better. The only way to do it is to get on the floor – they’ve got to play. There will be some nights when you guys think I should put the veterans in at the end, and I may do that. But it depends on how the young guys are playing. At some point, they’ve got to learn how to play in those situations. Kevin Garnett, Andre Miller, Tayshaun Prince – they’re not going to be here three years from now. So I’ve got to make sure that I do right by the organization, by making sure these young guys get a chance to learn how to play.”

Kevin Garnett

On improving the team’s defense:

“You can’t form a lot of chemistry when guys are in and out of the lineup. I keep on saying chemistry gets taken for granted. You need guys on the floor, in the locker room, you need chemistry throughout.

On how he makes up for size difference when playing against larger centers:

“…with heart and balls.”

On future plans to move into ownership:

QUESTION: “Are there plans for you to become an owner after your playing career? Here?

KG: “Yeah, that’s the plan.”

QUESTION: “With Glen Taylor? Or… partners with Flip?”

KG: “No details at this point, but that is the plan.”

QUESTION: “In, like… two years? Three years?”

KG: “No details.”

Tyus Jones

Regarding similarities between him and Andre Miller:

“He’s a very crafty guard. Someone that’s not going to jump over you, not extremely quick or explosive, but he gets the job done night in and night out. I’m not the quickest, not going to out-jump you, but I’m going to try to out-think you, and that’s something that he’s done for a number of years.”

Andre Miller

Regarding similarities between him and Tyus Jones:

“He’s way more advanced than a lot of people think. He’s more advanced than I was at 19. I think he’s definitely going to surprise a lot of people… our patience, letting the game come to us and keeping it simple. I can see that kind of similarity.”

Advice for young players:

“Listen to what the coach says, don’t talk back, keep working hard. Observe what’s going on around you.”

Tayshaun Prince

Advice for young players:

“When you have a young group of guys like this, the most important thing is building chemistry, building camaraderie, and how to practice and get ready for games. It’s important to let these guys know how to get prepared. There are so many things that go on now compared to when I was (new in the) league, it’s more more important now than ever to focus on the task at hand, whether it’s a game or a practice.”

On how this team fits together, and what he sees from the younger group of guys:

“A lot of athleticism, a lot of young talent, just missing the experience… the talent in that locker room is off the charts. Now it’s a matter of putting it together, and putting it in team form, not just like where going out and playing pick-up ball.”

Andrew Wiggins

On what he worked on during the offseason:

“Ballhandling and shooting.”

Regarding his brother’s presence on the team’s training camp roster:

“It’s good to have him around, definitely. When we step on the floor, if we’re on the same team, we’re good, but if we’re not… I’m going after him. That’s how it goes.”

Adreian Payne

On advice Kevin Garnett has given to him:

“A lot of advice on preparing for the game the right way, taking care of my body, and defensively showing me some tricks.”

Zach LaVine

On whether or not he plans to defend his Slam Dunk Contest title:

“I don’t know yet. No idea. I’m focused on the year right now. But I think I have the dunks planned already, so…”

Nikola Pekovic

No direct quotes from Pek. They were all kind of depressing. They all had to do with his ankle, how much pain he’s been in over the years, the months he spent in a walking boot and with crutches this summer, whether he’ll be forced to retire if his ankle requires surgery again (“Maybe,” he said). Not fun. On the fun side, I’m pretty sure some of those tattoos are new!


Nemanja Bjelica

On coming to the NBA:

“I can’t believe it, I’m very excited, you can’t imagine… Finally, I’m here, I’m very happy to be part of the Minnesota Timberwolves organization.”

On his strengths:

“I feel comfortable with the ball in my hands. I like to create for my teammates.”

Don’t forget to check out part two, which you can find here!

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3 thoughts on “Selected quotes from Timberwolves Media Day, part one

  1. Those 3 point comments have become the dog whistle to people who like to see themselves as progressive minds. Nylon Calculus wrote about this yesterday after Bill alerted them to this quote, and the writer’s reply tweet was problematic in its own way: “Isn’t ‘making it to the NBA’ a rigorous enough process?” Um, no? It’s like he overlooks the difference in distance between college/international 3s and NBA 3s. We saw Adreian Payne front-rim that shot last season after being decent in college. And some guys are still developing their range when they enter the league; I don’t blame a coach for wanting a guy who didn’t shoot many in college to prove he can make them in practice. I read the article and his other tweets and agree that they shouldn’t be taking catch-and-shoot 2s, but I don’t think this group has anyone who I’d want shooting 3s off screens or off the dribble because their best offensive skills are in other areas. The one exception would be Martin, but I went back and watched all of his attempts last season for something I wrote and found a strong tendency for him to take a step in instead of to the side when a defender rushed out at him, which turned a set play to get an open 3 into a long 2.

  2. Sam Mitchell: “there’s not a lot of plays that you can run to get open threes”…..WHAT??? I’m hoping I’m missing some sort of context where that would make sense because there are actually a TON of plays that lead to open threes. I mean if you don’t want to shoot threes or run an offense that opens up the three point line just say so and move on… And the whole thing about earning the right to shoot threes – is that a common thing at the NBA level? I can see that as being the case for specific individuals I guess…

    1. I don’t think running a play for a 3 pointer is common at all. Spurs don’t really run plays for 3’s, but they do park a guy in the corner, so anytime the d has to collapse to the running play the corner three is open. Even a pick is not really a play for a three, it is for sure an option if the defender sags, but it is so good because of all the options it opens up.

      The only time you really see a drawn up play to get a 3 off is inbounds plays. The rest are plays that have contingencies for several outcomes, and 3’s are sometimes that outcome.

      Obviously off a pick and roll the Warriors are more likely to seek out the 3, but the Wolves don’t have Curry or Thompson on their team. I took the comment to mean that if an open three comes about in the natural progression of a play then players that have shown the ability to knock them down are free to do so.

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