The Scoop: Wolves Chose Howard Over Martin
The Wolves chose to sign a 30-something former All-Star forward who has undergone knee surgery in the last handful of years.
It wasn't Kenyon Martin.
According to a league source, Martin's camp reached out to the Wolves a few times, most recently on Monday, but was politely turned down.
Bottom-line: the Wolves bypassed Martin in favor of Josh Howard, and the reasoning is simple: their need for a wing far surpasses any other position. You are who you can guard in the NBA and Martin defends bigs. Howard can help out on the perimeter.
Another league source didn't deny that the Wolves offered the same one-year veteran's minimum contract, which is worth approximately $1.2 million, to free agent wing Mickael Pietrus. But Howard and his agent, Derek Lafayette, said yes first. Pietrus is holding out for some team's $2.575 million room exception. The Wolves used theirs on center Greg Stiemsma.
To make roster room for Howard, the Wolves waived guard Will Conroy. As for his future, the word is he's not a big fan anymore of the D-League. It was coach Rick Adelman who broke him the news of his tenure ending.
Some highlights from an interview taped with Twins general manager Terry Ryan on Thursday afternoon. It'll air Friday at 6:10 p.m.
• "We've got a decent lineup and we've got enough defense and athleticism with our regular nine," Ryan said. "I need to find starting pitching. I think our bullpen will be all right."
• Ryan is working diligently on acquiring a third baseman, someone who can push incumbent starter Trevor Plouffe.
• Ryan when asked if a noteworthy move is close to happening: "There are some things we're pretty deep on. But I don't think that's a big deal because if you don't get something done, people get upset. Getting people's hopes up is not the path to take."
• Ryan didn't get to see pitcher Kyle Gibson while scouting the Arizona Fall League early last week, but has gotten encouraging reports. "He's throwing the ball ok," Ryan said. "He's right around 75 innings and he's healthy." Gibson underwent Tommy John surgery September 2011.
• Ryan did get to see outfielder Nate Roberts, who led the league in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Ryan said that Roberts needs to show he can have sustained success through a 100+ game schedule before he anoints him into the same category as other successful minor league outfielders Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia.
• Ryan passed along that infielder Brian Dozier just reported to his winter league team in Venezuela two days ago.
• Ryan reiterated what he told a season-ticket holder forum in early October: there's a better chance outfielder Josh Willingham opens next year in a Twins uniform. A baseball source said the Braves, Orioles, Mariners, and probably a few more teams have inquired about him this offseason.
• The Marlins made it very clear at the general manager meetings that they had plans to move pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson. So, no surprise, Ryan had talks with them.
• Ryan is a believer in ex-Twins catcher and new Marlins manager Mike Redmond. "I think Mike will do a fine job," Ryan said. "He's got the right personality."
• The Twins are one of 15 teams to call about former Giants infielder Emmanuel Burriss.
• Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder skipped out on a South Dakota hunting trip with teammates Chad Greenway, John Sullivan, Kyle Rudolph, and Cullen Loeffler in favor of some face time with his girlfriend, ESPN's Samantha Steele.
• Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is spending the bye weekend in Houston with his son, Corey, who plays safety for Rice. Corey injured his knee in September, so will earn an additional year.
• In an interview Thursday night on 1500 ESPN (available under the Audio section of the SportsWire), Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague said there will be a push as soon as possible -- 2017 -- to not have Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nebraska all on the TCF Bank Stadium slate in the same year. In the same interview Teague said he's gotten a handful of calls from colleagues around the country surprised at the amount of backlash he's received for canceling the football series with North Carolina.
• Euroleague forward Nemanja Bjelica, who's NBA rights belong to the Wolves, is averaging 11.7 points in 30.8 minutes for Caja Laboral (Spain). He's played in five of his team's seven games, missing the last two with a leg injury. There's a decent chance he plays for the Wolves starting next year.
• Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen on her whereabouts: "I'm playing for Galatasaray in Istanbul, Turkey. It's going well. We are 4-0 in Euroleague. It's a great city and Ben (her husband) is here, so it's all good." Whalen said she has played in three games after joining the team just over a week ago. She needed some time to let her wrist heal after the WNBA Finals.
• Top Wild prospect Mikael Granlund, playing for the Wild's minor league affiliate, Houston, is expected to finish rehab on his injured right ankle there starting next week. He's been working out in St. Paul for the last two weeks.
• Give Wolves European scout Pete Philo the first assist on helping steer guard Alexey Shved to Minnesota. Philo started the courting process in February 2011.
• Gophers co-captain Rodney Williams on sixth-year forward Trevor Mbakwe: "It's time for everyone to see that Trev's back. We see it in practice." Mbakwe is still being asked to wear a knee brace on his surgically repaired right knee. Strength coach Steve Felde said it'll be about another four weeks until he can shed that brace.
• Gophers junior Austin Hollins on Felde, a June addition to the coaching and training staff: "I think he's done a great job. Everyone feels like they're getting stronger and that they're in great shape. We're excited to have him on the staff."