The Minnesota Timberwolves unveiled the new identity of their G-League team Tuesday afternoon in the confines of the HyVee Hall in Des Moines, Iowa. Known as the Iowa Energy since the team’s conception in 2007, the team will henceforth be recognized as the Iowa Wolves.
The primary and secondary logos were designed by Rodney Richardson of Rare Design, who previously designed the Timberwolves new logos. According to Richardson, the designs of the logos emphasized the connection between the Wolves and, uh, Wolves (I guess I have to refer to them as the Timberwolves moving forward sigh) via similar color schemes, fonts, and graphics. The primary logo also drew inspiration from the Timberwolves’ original 1989 logo, affectionately known as Old Shep.
— Iowa Wolves (@iawolves) May 30, 2017
The addition of a G-League team was important to head coach Tom Thibodeau when he accepted the position in April of 2016. “It was one of the things when [Timberwolves’ majority owner Glen Taylor] hired me that I felt like we needed and he promised that he would do it and he did it.”
“We’ve been looking for the opportunity to partner with a D-League team for some period of time now,” stated Timberwolves CEO Ethan Casson. “It had to be the right team. It had to be the right time. And, certainly, there had to be a tremendous opportunity in that partnership. And we found that. Frankly, all roads led back to Des Moines.”
The Iowa Wolves will play an imperative role in the development of the Timberwolves’ franchise moving forward. Previously, the Timberwolves were constrained by their lack of an affiliate, having to send players in need to experience and rehabilitation to unfamiliar teams that ran unfamiliar systems and used unfamiliar terminology. Additionally, they were unable to fully utilize the second round of the draft, often trading away/selling their picks or giving up on prospects early (see Glenn Robinson, Jr.), because the selection of a player would have resulted in a valuable roster spot being occupied without playing time being available.
Now, thanks to the Iowa Wolves and a new rule that effectively expands the NBA roster size from 15 to 17, players who lack experience and playing time, whether because of age or roster depth, will be able to travel to Des Moines and receiving playing time they otherwise wouldn’t have, all while Thibodeau and the rest of the coaching staff have the guarantee that they are learning the same system and terminology as their parent team.
“This will now allow us to run our own system,” stated Thibodeau. “I don’t want to say moved down, they’re going to be moved into development and it’s a phase in which they can get playing time, which is an important part of any young player establishing himself as a pro…We’ll have a chance where we can use our system, our terminology, and I think it’ll be a very useful tool for us.”
The team will also be able to use the Wolves as a valuable place for injured players to get back to game speed. Stated Thibodeau, “We can send him [to Des Moines] to recover, part of his rehab, practicing with the team, maybe not playing in games, but having the ability to practice.” (Of note, Timberwolves’ guard Zach LaVine and forward Nemanja Bjelica are currently recovering from ACL surgery and a navicular fracture and, one would have to imagine, could potentially see time with the Wolves if necessary. When asked after the Iowa Wolves reveal if LaVine would see time in Des Moines, Thibodeau stated that, “it all depends on where he’s at” in his recovery.)
The Iowa Wolves have yet to announce a coaching staff, but according to Thibodeau discussions on who should lead the team are already taking place. “We’re going to open it up. I think the important thing for us is to find someone that is familiar with the system that we’re running. We have some people in mind that we’re talking to and we’ll see how that unfolds.”
The direction of the Wolves is still very much in the air, but the purchase and establishment of the G-League franchise is critical for the success of the Timberwolves moving forward. It is yet another check mark on the “To Do” list for the Timberwolves becoming a championship level franchise.
The press conference can be viewed in its entirety here.