Tag: Nikola Pekovic

Minnesota Timberwolves v Orlando Magic

Report: Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio set to return Monday vs. Dallas


You may well not remember this, but Minnesota started the season 2-2, with those losses being close ones to the Bulls and Grizzlies, and looked like a team showing promise. Then Ricky Rubio went down with an ankle injury Nov. 7 in Orlando (when he stepped on a defender’s foot), and he has been out ever since. It was the first of a string of injuries that hit the already not deep Timberwolves.

Minnesota has gone 6-36 since Rubio went down.

So it is big news for the Timberwolves that Rubio is healthy and will make his return to the lineup on Monday vs. Dallas, something first reported by Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press.

Paired with the return of Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin to the lineup in recent weeks, this should make the Timberwolves less of a pushover.

This should mean less of rookie Zach LaVine as a point guard and playmaker, which is a very good thing as he is not good at it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pumped he’s in the All-Star Dunk Contest, he’s great at that, but his basketball decision making skills and shooting need a lot of work. He was asked to do things he was just not capable of in the absence of Rubio.

PBT’s Weekly NBA Power Rankings: Hawks continue to fly high


Atlanta’s win streak is up to 16 in a row and while we see flashes from the Bulls and Cavaliers, a trip to the Finals in the East still runs through the ATL. That’s a good story. Out West Golden State remains the team to beat, although the margins for error in that conference are miniscule. That’s a good story, too. But in these Power Rankings we talk a lot about All-Star reserves.

source:  1. Hawks (37-8, Last Week No. 1). The winning streak is now at a ridiculous 16 games. We know at least one Hawk will be represented at the All-Star Game — Mike Budenholzer will coach the East. The question for the coaches voting around the league is how many of Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver to add to the All-Star team as reserves (two at least, maybe three).

source:  2. Warriors (36-6, LW 2). Klay Thompson put on a 37-point third quarter show last week right as coaches started to vote on the All-Star reserves. He’s a bubble guy but that performance plus the fact one more guard will get in with Kobe Bryant being out means Thompson should be a lock for New York.

source:  3. Spurs (29-17, LW 3). They have won six of seven and the only off day happened to come on a day the Bulls finally played up to their potential. Looming out there starting Feb. 8: The nine-game rodeo road trip, a signature trip that has made some previous Spurs teams.

source:  4. Grizzlies (31-12, LW 4). I’m not so sure about the whole “starting Jeff Green” thing, but the Grizzlies have won six of seven and are looking rock solid again. Interesting tests this week vs. Dallas and OKC. Good on the fans for rightfully voting Marc Gasol as a starter for the All-Star Game.

source:  5. Clippers (30-14, LW 5). It’s odd to think that Chris Paul is on the bubble for making the All-Star Game as a reserve, but that’s just how deep the West is. Fans going by points alone or falling for the hot new flavor of the month have others in front of CP3, but look at his assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. To me the best floor general in the game today has to make the cut. Clippers are +11.9 as a team in last 10 games, third best in the NBA, thanks to an offense scoring 114.5 per 100 over that span.

source:  6. Rockets (31-14, LW 6). Kevin McHale would like the Rockets to play at a faster pace but says it’s like pulling teeth: “Everybody says they want to run until it’s time to run. I asked one guy, ‘Do you run down to get your mail?’ ‘Do you run and get your eggs?’ Nobody likes to run — they all say they do but they’re lying to me. It’s been 25 years since anyone liked to run, and we grew up running, we ran all the time, that’s the way we grew up playing.”

source:  7. Mavericks (30-15, LW 8). It was a scary moment Sunday when Tyson Chandler had to be helped to the locker room holding his knee. Fortunately it was nothing too serious, he returned and played later in the game. However, the next center after him on the roster is Dwight Powell. The Mavs think they can sign Jermaine O’Neal. Either way, both are huge drop offs from Chandler, who is key to any Dallas postseason run.

source:  8. Trail Blazers (32-13. Last Week No. 6). The Blazers are entering a tough stretch of the schedule so they could use the fact that LaMarcus Aldridge is going to play through a torn ligament in his thumb. By the way, if you thought he might bolt Portland as a free agent this summer, you think he would put the team first and play through this injury if that was the case?

source:  9. Bulls (29-17, LW 12). The Bulls look like they broke out of their mid-season slump with a thrashing of the Spurs followed by a win over Dallas the next night, both on the road. Then they got home Sunday night against a sub-.500 team and laid another egg. Their inconsistency is maddening, but I still see their peaks and think they could come out of the East.

source:  10. Suns (26-20, LW 9). If the Suns are going to hold off the hard-charging Thunder in the West they need to do well in a rough stretch of games through Feb. 5. They started of 1-2 and this week face the Wizards, Bulls and Warriors. The good news is the Thunder have yet to get hot.

source:  11. Cavaliers (25-20 LW 13). In the Cavs five game winning streak they are averaging 118 points per 100 possessions behind an explosive LeBron James, it’s the best offense in the league by a wide margin in that stretch. Their defense is improved, but still is just middle of the pack in the league. That has been enough of late.

source:  12 Wizards (30-15, LW 10). They lost to both the Trail Blazers and Thunder last week because of poor fourth quarter execution (and if Kenneth Faried didn’t miss two late free throws the Wiz would have dropped three last week). Interesting showdown with slumping Toronto later in the week.

source:  13. Raptors (29-15, LW 11). In their last 10 games as a team they are -3.2 per 100 possessions, and the real concern is it’s a drop on both ends of the court. That said, Raptors fans should celebrate Kyle Lowry being voted an All-Star starter of Dwyane Wade, that was the correct choice.

source:  14. Pelicans (23-21, LW 16). They picked up a quality win over Phoenix and are now just two games out of the final playoff spot in the West, plus they have 10 of their next 12 at home. The playoff dream is alive in New Orleans.

source:  15. Thunder (22-22, LW 14). They have dropped two in a row and are 5-5 in their last 10 because their offense is struggling. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have been fantastic (and both deserve to be All-Stars) but in his last five games Dion Waiters is shooting just 37.7 percent and Reggie Jackson is worse. The rest of the team has to step up.

source:  16. Hornets (19-26, LW 19). They have won 8 of 11 and with that moved past the Nets to be the eight seed in the East. Why the run? Because of a soft schedule, the only quality wins in there were over the slumping Raptors and the Heat. Things change this week on the road at the Spurs, then next week they have a home-and-home with Washington.

source:  17. Heat (20-24, LW 18). Heat fans (and people around the team) had been buzzing for a while about Hassan Whiteside, but he announced his presence with authority on Sunday blocking a dozen shots in a win over Chicago. He’s matured physically — he’s put on a lot of weight since he entered the league, and he needed to — and in terms of the mentality of his game. He’s patient now, not frenetic.

source:  18. Bucks (22-22, LW 15). They are 1-3 since returning from London and have not looked sharp, particularly the bench. Potentially important game for seeding against Miami on Tuesday.

source:  19. Pistons (17-28, LW 17). . The Brandon Jennings injury could be devastating. D.J. Augustin had a great game as a replacement on Sunday, and he has played better as a starter than off the bench in recent years, but this is still a step back.

source:  20. Jazz (16-28, LW 25). If he were not in a ridiculously stacked Western Conference, Derrick Favors should deserve a little All-Star buzz. The Jazz are 10-10 in their last 20 games and are doing that with solid defense.

source:  21. Nets (18-26, LW 21). The most interesting thing about this team continues to be the trade rumors — now they are talking to Charlotte about a Joe Johnson trade for Lance Stephenson. There will be other rumors flying as they try to reduce payroll before selling the team.

source:  22. Nuggets (18-26, LW 20). They have lost six in a row and the issue is on defense, where they have been the worst team in the NBA over their last five games. Brian Shaw should make sure his resume is in order for this summer.

source:  23. Celtics (15-27, LW 26). Credit coach Brad Stevens if you want, credit the makeup of the players if you want, but what you have to like about this Celtics team is that they don’t quit. Down in games when a lot of teams would just roll over Bosotn fights back. That is a good quality.

source:  24. Pacers (16-30, LW 22). Well they beat Orlando on Sunday to snap a seven-game losing streak. However despite their good defense their offense is not going to allow them to win many more games.

source:  25. Kings (16-27, LW 23). DeMarcus Cousins should make the All-Star team, at least in my book (I’d have him over Dwight Howard or Tim Duncan, which Duncan would be good with as he doesn’t want to be there). Cousins getting in might takes Kings’ fans minds off the six-game losing streak.

source:  26. Magic (15-32, LW 24). I think Nikola Vucevic deserves to make the Eastern Conference All-Star team, but if he doesn’t it’s because he plays on a struggling team right now that shows flashes of good play surrounded by some raw, sloppy play.

source:  27. Knicks (8-37, LW 30). Break up the Knicks! They have won three in a row and Langston Galloway is on his way to establishing cult hero status in New York. They could keep winning with teams like the Kings and Lakers on the docket this week.

source:  28. Lakers (12-33, LW 27). The loss of Kobe Bryant is the big story, but the other issue around the Lakers is that the minutes and rotations are just all over the map. Coach Byron Scott is searching nightly for anything that works, but the result is guys just don’t know if they will be called on. Nick Young is the latest guy in that doghouse.

source:  29. 76ers (8-36, LW 28). As if the Sixers couldn’t get any harder to watch, Tony Wroten goes down with a knee injury and is done for the season. They play hard and defend as well as they can, but this team is not entertaining.

source:  30. Timberwolves (7-35, LW 29). Nikola Pekovic is back and Flip Saunders is throwing him out there like he wants to showcase him for a trade. Or he doesn’t have other good options. Or a little of both. Kevin Martin can expect the same thing.

Ricky Rubio’s ankle injury is worse than previously thought

Ricky Rubio

Ricky Rubio sprained his left ankle near the beginning of the season, missing all but the first five games of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ season. Originally, the team expected him to be back in January, but the latest word out of Minneapolis is that the injury is worse than we thought and fans won’t be seeing Rubio back anytime soon:

It has been almost 11 weeks since he went down with a severely sprained left ankle, and the length of his recovery has drawn impatience from a fan base desperate to see Rubio throw lob passes to Andrew Wiggins.

But on a night when the Wolves finally got center Nikola Pekovic back from a 31-game absence, coach Flip Saunders shed some light on the nature of Rubio’s injury. Saunders said Rubio not only suffered a high ankle sprain against Orlando on Nov. 7, but also damaged some muscles and ligaments that lead from his ankle to his toes, prolonging the recovery process.

This is obviously a huge bummer for Rubio and for Wolves fans. They’re one of the worst teams in the league this year, but Wiggins and Zach LaVine have emerged as promising young talents, and it’s essential to their future that Rubio gets experience playing with the other parts of the young, rebuilding core.

The Timberwolves have every reason to be cautious with Rubio. They’re not going anywhere this year — at 7-34, they have the worst record in the Western Conference and the second-worst overall record in the league. They’re going to get a top-five lottery pick, most likely. Rubio also signed a four-year, $56 million extension that kicks in next season. The Timberwolves have a lot of money invested in his future, and it would be foolish to put that at risk for what is already a lost season.

Report: Timberwolves signing Miroslav Raduljica to guaranteed contract


Miroslav Raduljica – traded by the Bucks to the Clippers, who waived himsaid he wanted to remain in the NBA.

After no deal emerged, he signed in China.

But with a buyout secured, he’s headed back to the NBA.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

Free agent center Miroslav Raduljica is finalizing a guaranteed contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the remainder of the season, league sources told RealGM.

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With Nikola Pekovic injured, the 7-foot Raduljica provides a little more depth behind Gorgui Dieng at center.

More importantly, Raduljica, 26, gives Minnesota another young player who could play a role in the team’s future. He played well in limited minutes as a rookie for Milwaukee last season, and he could fit in the rotation of a good team.

Plus, he has a pretty great beard.

Minnesota’s Ronny Turiaf has hip surgery, done for season

Minnesota Timberwolves Media Day

It wasn’t going to be easy for Ronny Turiaff to get minutes this season in Minnesota anyway. Nikola Pekovic was starting and the team rightfully is high on Gorgui Dieng behind him. Turiaf was in the third slot. But with Pekovic out much of the season (and likely not back until after the first of the year) there were minutes to be had.

But Turiaff couldn’t get healthy enough to take advantage. He’s battled a hip issue all season, only 19 minutes total from two games, and now he has undergone surgery to correct the hip problem, the team announced Tuesday.

Look for the Timberwolves to cut Turiaf loose at some point so they can free up a roster spot, reports Jerry Zgoda at the Star Tribune.

Turiaf’s contract — with a $1.6 million salary — expires after this season. (Timberwolves GM) Flip Saunders said this morning the team would waive Turiaf and pay him his remaining owed money “if there’s the right person available.”

That could be just keeping around forward Jeff Adrien, whose current 10-day roster exception spot runs through Friday. Or it could be a guard such as D League sharpshooter Brady Heslip, who was with the Wolves in training camp.

This saddens me as Turiaf is one of my personal favorite players around the league. You have to love the guys that just hustle and look like they are having a good time on the court. After needing heart surgery before he could play a minute after being drafted by the Lakers, it gave him a great perspective on just how fortunate he was that some players like. Not sure if we’ll see him playing in the league again, but it was fun to watch him.