Milt Newton

Report: Timberwolves to hire Wizards’ Milt Newton to be GM

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Flip Saunders, the guy calling the shots in Minnesota, has been looking to hire a general manager. Saunders wanted somebody to do the day-to-day GM work (scouting, dealing with agents who call) and provide another voice on team issues.

Apparently he found his guy in the Wizards front office, reports Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 radio in Minnesota.

Washington Wizards Vice President of player personnel, Milt Newton, will join the Timberwolves as the team’s general manager, according to a team source. Newton will be heavily involved in pro scouting.

The Wolves also plan on elevating Rob Babcock to a vice president of personnel position.

Make no mistake, Saunders will still be the guy with the big hammer who can approve or reject trades, the guy with the final say on contracts, draft picks and all other things basketball. But Newton and Babcock will have a lot of input. For example, when it comes to the draft it will be Newton who will do a lot of the scouting (and dealing with the team scouts) and making the pitch to Saunders on what the draft board should look like.

This kind of arrangement can work if all the parties are on the same page. It should work here.

Saunders is trying to build a different culture than under David Kahn, a guy who had a strained relationship with Kevin Love (Sauders has a much better one) and made some really odd decisions during his tenure (but also put together the core of this team which could well make the playoffs this year if they stay healthy). Newton is part of that change.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.