Plenty of introductions
Gomes, Brewer are
dealing with all the changes
By Pat Ruff
Ryan Gomes and Corey Brewer are doing their best this summer to roll with the punches.
The Minnesota Timberwolves forwards, at the Area Family Y on Wednesday as part of the annual U.S. Bank/Minnesota Timberwolves Summer Caravan, have had plenty to roll with. Since David Kahn took over as the team’s general manager in May, the players and the front office have become barely recognizable.
Kahn isn’t just cleaning house for a franchise that finished 24-58 last season and hasn’t had a winning record since 2004-05, he’s pretty much razed it. His goal is to build a much more substantial foundation than the Wolves and their fans had become accustomed to the last four years.
Here’s the teardown and the ongoing reconstruction since Kahn took over:
• Kevin McHale was let go as coach with a new head man yet to be chosen.
• Wolves players Randy Foye, Mike Miller, Sebastian Telfair, Craig Smith and Mark Madsen all were traded in the last two months.
• In exchange in those trades, the primary pieces the Wolves have acquired have been the No. 5 pick in the 2009 draft, used to select point guard Ricky Rubio; shooting guard Quentin Richardson; and shooting guard Damien Wilkins.
• Also in the June draft, the Wolves picked speedy and powerful point guard Jonny Flynn at No. 6, and slick-shooting guard Wayne Ellington at No. 28.
• The Wolves are currently trying to pry Rubio loose from his expensive contract in Spain. It may be two years before he wears a Wolves uniform, if the team doesn’t deal him for a presumably major piece first.
Yes, that’s a lot for Gomes and Brewer to absorb. And the third-year Wolves players know that Kahn isn’t done yet. There is still that coach to hire, and likely more deals to be struck before the Wolves open training camp in the fall.
"It’s a business and you have to view it that way," said the personable Gomes, who is coming off his best season as a pro, having averaged 13 points and five rebounds. "The downside to all that’s happened is that I lost a lot of really good friends there, though I’ll definitely still be staying in touch with them.
"The upside of it is that now we have guys who might make us better than we were last year. I like what I’ve seen from Jonny Flynn a lot. He’s an explosive athlete who is great at getting to the rim."
As for Brewer, he’s had more to contend with than just losing a tight bunch of teammates. The most valuable player of the 2007 NCAA championship game when Florida beat Ohio State, Brewer is recovering from knee surgery. He tore his ACL 15 games into last season and has spent the last eight months rehabilitating it.
Brewer just finished playing in his team’s summer-league games, a setting used mostly for first- and second-year NBA players. It was his first organized basketball since the injury.
Brewer, a rail-thin 6-foot-9 but known for his athleticism, indicated that he still has a ways to go.
"I felt pretty rusty out there," Brewer said with a smile. "But I hadn’t played five-on-five basketball in eight months."
Brewer figures he’s 90 percent healthy, but believes he’ll be 100 percent by training camp.
It’s going to be a different kind of training camp, with plenty of introductions.
"We had a bunch of good friends who were traded, but we just have to deal with it," Brewer said. "We’re starting over with new guys now."