Tom Thibodeau likes Timberwolves’ young core, but doesn’t get into hype
MINNEAPOLIS -- When fifth overall pick Kris Dunn lit up a Las Vegas Summer League game Friday, new teammate Karl-Anthony Towns tweeted an emoji of a dancing woman to represent Dunn's smooth moves.As Dunn and the Timberwolves have begun to trend o...
MINNEAPOLIS - When fifth overall pick Kris Dunn lit up a Las Vegas Summer League game Friday, new teammate Karl-Anthony Towns tweeted an emoji of a dancing woman to represent Dunn’s smooth moves.
As Dunn and the Timberwolves have begun to trend on social media and in other NBA circles, Towns’ shout out was the latest hype for a team on the rise. But president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau isn’t yet convinced.
“You can’t get too carried away with it, but I thought for a first outing (Dunn) did well overall,” Thibodeau said Saturday in a conference call with Minnesota media. “There’s a long way to go.”
Since his hiring in April, Thibodeau has focused on the long game, declining to get carried away by the promise of young players such as Towns and Andrew Wiggins, the past two NBA rookies of the year. First, he said, he must evaluate the entire roster, which also includes Gorgui Dieng, Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio.
“We like our young core a lot,” Thibodeau said, “and I would say this: We’re also not fooling ourselves. We know we’re in a very competitive conference. We won 29 games last year.”
Thibodeau also didn’t rule out roster tinkering this summer. Since the open free agency period started last Thursday, Minnesota has added shooting specialist Brandon Rush after reaching an agreement earlier with backup big man Cole Aldrich.
“There’s also going to be trade potential,” Thibodeau said. “We have cap space. We think we have assets that are attractive to other people. We’re pleased.”
Thibodeau declined to disclose the nature of his interactions with Kevin Garnett, and the chances that KG comes back for a 22nd season. “I’m going to keep all those conversations private,” he said.
Aldrich, a Bloomington Jefferson graduate, has been vacationing in Italy and has yet to sign with the Wolves.
“Hopefully, we’ll wrap it up soon,” Thibodeau said. “I think he will fit well with us. I think (it’s) his size, shot blocking, his ability to finish around the rim. I thought he had a terrific season with the Clippers this year, so we’re excited to have him.”
Aldrich, 27, averaged 1.1 blocks and shot 59.6 percent from the field and 13.3 minutes across 60 games for the Clippers last season.
Thibodeau likes that Rush joins the Wolves from Golden State, which has been in the past two NBA Finals, winning in 2014-15. He was 41.4 percent three-point shooter last season.
“He started 25 games for them last year. The outside shooting, his versatility at 6-7, 6-8 and his ability on the defensive end,” Thibodeau said. “His ability to play multiple positions, but the shooting was the main thing with him.”
Rush has overcome two anterior cruciate knee ligament tears, one in 2007 at Kansas University, the other in 2012 with the Warriors.
“Most players have to get past things, and he’s shown that,” Thibodeau said. “I think, obviously being healthy last year and being able to fill a role. I think he’s a good fit. We’re not concerned right now about his health because the fact, as you said, he’s played so many games (72) last year.”
Thibodeau has Ryan Saunders coaching the summer league team in Las Vegas. Saunders remains after serving as an assistant coach the previous two season under his late father, Flip, and interim coach Sam Mitchell last season. Thibodeau plans to announce the full coaching staff later this summer.