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Should Timberwolves acquire Kyrie Erving?

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By Larry Fitzgerald
August 2, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

Nobody has done more to improve their roster than the Minnesota Timberwolves since Golden State captured their second NBA title in June over Cleveland. After the team finished 31-51, missing the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season, Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden took their time, rolled up their sleeves, and worked the system. Suddenly the Timberwolves look like a playoff contender.

Trading veteran Ricky Rubio to Utah for a 2018 first-round pick, releasing forward Nickalo Pekovic, making the blockbuster deal with Chicago for All-Star Jimmy Butler in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Minnesota’s number-seven overall pick has set the tone for change.

That deal sent shock waves through the NBA community. It got players talking about Minnesota as the place to play.
All-Star guard Jeff Teague was signed as well as forward Taj Gibson; and the foundation for the future, Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns, 21 and 22 years old respectively, is already in place. What Thibodeau has done is infused the organization because he has credibility as a coach around the league. Players know he’s about winning and want to play where they can see progress in the making.

Suddenly two weeks ago, after all the moves the Timberwolves have made, even signing veteran reserve guard Jamaal Crawford, All-Star Kyrie Erving, one of the NBA’s top point guards, wants out of Cleveland. After three straight years in the NBA Finals and helping Cleveland win their first championship of any kind in 54 years, he says he wants to go elsewhere. And he tells his agent and Cleveland he wants to go to Minnesota.

Does he have issues with LeBron James? Is he upset that Cleveland just fired their general manager, the guy who drafted him number-one overall out of Duke? Remember, he came into the league after a serious injury his last year at Duke. Whatever his reasons are now for wanting out of Cleveland, if I were the Timberwolves I would not make that deal.

Erving’s body has taken a beating going deep in the playoffs three straight years in a row and logging deep minutes. Cleveland would want Wiggins in exchange, who the Wolves acquired in the Kevin Love deal three years ago.

As talented as Erving is having won a title already, Wiggins I feel has not yet hit his growth ceiling. He is still evolving as a player. I like his game and his mental approach to the game. I hope the Timberwolves are patient and pass on dealing for Erving and allow this current group they have now to grow together.

Erving has a history of getting hurt. It’s part of the game, but he plays with the ball a lot in creating contact in the lane. I want to see Towns, Wiggins, Butler and Teague together. I think the Timberwolves, with Butler’s leadership and Teague’s ability to push the tempo, are ready to go.


Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on 
Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Minnesota is no longer the North Pole of the NBA

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By Eric Nelson
July 25, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@Ericinminny44

 

MINNEAPOLIS -Sports Nuggets from Timberwolves Nation...

•Trade Demand: Kyrie Irving has had enough of Cleveland. The superstar PG is tired of being solar eclipsed by LeBron James and wants to leave the King’s galaxy. Irving’s goal is to force a trade to one of four teams – Miami, Minnesota, New York or San Antonio…

•Hot Spot: By simply listing the Timberwolves as one of his fab four, Irving gives the franchise legitimacy. Apparently Minnesota is no longer the North Pole of the NBA…

•Butler Bounce: Of course, the T-Wolves can thank Jimmy Butler for this perception change. Once Minnesota acquired Butler from Chicago, the Wolves got instant street cred…

•Young Talent: In the last seven days the Minnesota Twins have gone up against two of the most prolific rookies in recent MLB history. Last week the Twins faced Aaron Judge and the NY Yankees in a three-game series in Minneapolis. This week it’s phenom Cody Bellinger as the Twins and LA Dodgers play three in So Cal…

•Dodger Dinger: On Monday night the Twins found out just how good Bellinger is. Bellinger slugged a three-run home run in the 9th inning to give LA a 6-4 win. Bellinger has 28 taters and 67 RBI this season..

•Fun is Good: The St. Paul Saints continue to be one of the best sports bargains in the Twin Cities. Scenic CHS Field is a gem, the ball club is highly successful (34-27 and 1 game behind Winnipeg in the AA North) and the goofy, in-game shtick is comical. The Saints hallmark is baseball mixed with entertainment and they pull that off that better than anyone…

•Lowertown Boom: This is year three for the Saints at CHS. They are part of the reason why Lowertown St. Paul is now a hip spot. There are cool parks and trendy restaurants near CHS and a good vibe in the area…

•Oh Maya: Not many athletes have a trophy case with more hardware than Minnesota Lynx G Maya Moore. On Saturday Moore collected another trophy after being named MVP of the WNBA All-Star game in Seattle. Moore scored 23 points to lead the West to a 130-121 win over the East. It’s the second straight season Moore has been ASG MVP…

•Vanishing Act: There are plenty of things to focus on as the Minnesota Vikings begin training camp this week in Mankato. One focal point is second year WR Laquon Treadwell – who had just one catch last season. Treadwell was persona non grata as a rookie and the Vikings need to get much more from their 2016 first round draft choice…

•Done Deal: Even though this is just the start of training camp for all 32 NFL teams, one thing is certain – New England will win the AFC East. The Patriots have won eight straight East titles and 14 since 2001…

•Name Game: Golden Valley, MN-based Allianz Insurance Company has acquired naming rights for Minnesota United’s future stadium in St. Paul. Allianz Field becomes the 1st Allianz-sponsored stadium in North America and 8th in eight countries on four continents. The soccer specific venue opens in 2019 and will cost $200 million. Capacity is 19,400…

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The Warriors — simply the best!

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By Larry Fitzgerald
June 14, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

OAKLAND —It’s no secret, start spreading the news: the Golden State Warriors are the champions of basketball. They completed the greatest playoff run to a championship in the 71 years of the NBA Finals.

The Warriors 129-120 win in game five gave them an NBA best-ever 16-1 record. Need I say this Warriors group is special? Last year’s 73-9 best-ever NBA regular season mark was somehow overshadowed by Cleveland’s stunningly dramatic NBA Finals game seven 93-89 win.

Golden State wanted their title back and signed All-Star Kevin Durant away from Oklahoma City so a team as talented and as explosive as the Warriors suddenly had two former NBA MVPs in Stephen Curry and Durant, both young, talented, hungry and in their 20s.

Let it be known whenever two former MVPs had played together previously, a championship soon followed. In history it’s happened three times: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson with the Lakers; and Julius Erving and Moses Malone with Philadelphia.

Not only did they match it, Curry and Durant swept the Western Conference playoffs, sweeping Portland, Utah, and 61 win San Antonio 4-0 4-0 4-0.

Golden State had a bullseye on Cleveland all year, matching up in the NBA Finals for a record third straight year — one at 12-0, the other at 12-1.

(MGN Online)
The Warriors enjoying their championship win, June 12.

Durant and Curry were unstoppable; Durant scored 30 points or more in all five Finals games, averaging 35 points, eight rebounds and five assists. He was unanimously selected the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP. The Warriors finished 31-2 in their last 33 games. For three years in the regular season, 67-73-67, the Warriors are the best ever.

Their speed, movement, and ability to share the ball and play together, combined with their will and ability to shoot accurately from long range has had this league and its coaches staying up late hours trying to find ways to slow them down.

LeBron James was remarkable in defeat, however. He scored 41 points in game five and averaged a triple-double for the Finals. He’s the first player ever to achieve that. James has now slipped to 3-5 in the NBA Finals. Is Durant now the game’s best player?

These are the first Finals where four players averaged scoring 25 points per game. Durant, Curry, Kyrie Erving and James. Warriors Coach Steve Kerr missed several games this year with back issues. Assistant Coach Mike Brown, who twice was fired by Cleveland, did a remarkable job in his absence. Kerr returned for game two of the Finals and wins his second title in three years. All five Warriors starters are in their 20s — get used to this Dub Nation.

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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There’s no stopping Golden State!

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By Larry Fitzgerald
June 6, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

OAKLAND — The Golden State Warriors are on a mission, and that mission is to cement themselves as among the greatest teams in NBA history. They are halfway to the greatest Championship post-season run in NBA history.

After smashing the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers 113-91 and 132-113 in the first two games at Oracle Arena of the 2017 NBA Finals, it’s no secret they are as good as advertised. Golden State is the 33rd team in NBA Finals history to lead 2-0 in the Finals. Twenty eight of the previous 32 times, the team up 2-0 has won the Championship.

Both wins over Cleveland were similar in the sense that the Warriors blew open the games in the third period. In game one, the Warriors had just four turnovers. Kevin Durant scored 38 points with eight rebounds and eight assists. Stephen Curry had 28 points and 10 assists.

Kevin Durant brings the basketball up the court for Golden State.

Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant

Let me remind you that the Warriors already are the greatest NBA team over three years in terms of regular-season wins. Over the last three years the Warriors have won 67, 73 and 67 games in the regular season — that’s 207 wins. In 2015 they beat Cleveland four games to two in the NBA Finals. Last year Cleveland shocked the world by rallying from a 3-1 series deficit to grab the crown in an epic 93-89 game seven.

That loss denied the Warriors’ confirmation as the greatest single-season championship team ever. You see, they had the record 73 wins but no title. The Chicago Bulls, 72-10, won the NBA Championship and is regarded as the greatest team in NBA history. You can argue and debate it, but the fact remains that to finish first you must first finish.

By not winning the title last year after winning all those games and to have had history and the championship in their grasp has tormented this team. Signing All-Star Kevin Durant virtually made this team unstoppable. And to have the opportunity to beat the same Cleveland team that took their championship away has made the Warriors focused.

This team with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant is the best team I’ve seen since the Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen-Dennis Rodman Chicago Bulls, who won three NBA Titles in a row in the late ’90s.

Michael Jordan and Scott Pippen of the Chicago Bulls

Dynasty is a common word in NBA History…

LeBron James, as great as he is, can’t be counted out. Last year he led the Cavaliers all the way back from a 2-0 and 3-1 deficit to win Cleveland’s first championship of any kind in 54 years.

But this Warriors team is virtually unbeatable. They finished the regular season 15-1. Since the playoffs have begun, they are the first team in NBA history — that’s 71 years — to stand 14-0 and two wins shy of a 16-0 unbeaten run to the title. The Los Angeles Lakers finished 15-1 to capture the crown.

The Warriors’ system is predicated on movement spacing and sharing the basketball. When you can combine hard work, talent, and a great system, and you are well coached, you win 29 of 30 games, which is what they have done. Take it to the bank: Cleveland may get one game or two, but I don’t think they can beat this team four times in five games.

In game two, Durant scored 33 points with 13 rebounds and five blocked shots. Curry had 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. LeBron James had a triple double also with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and a game-high 14 assists. Former Timberwolves star Kevin Love had 27.

James, with 18 career playoff triple doubles, eight of them in the Finals, ties Magic Johnson’s record with the Lakers also with eight in the Finals. James and Curry both had triple doubles — that’s the first time that’s happened in the Finals. Cleveland is the first team to trail 0-2 in back-to-back NBA Finals.

With Curry, Durant, Thompson and Green, stranger things have happened, and I have seen some strange things happen. After all, this is just a game of basketball. However, with Head Coach Steve Kerr back directing his team after a marvelous job by Mike Brown stepping in, it’s a matter of time and games. The Warriors will win it, because there’s no stopping the Warriors.

 

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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Golden State and Cleveland on collision course

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By Larry Fitzgerald
May 18, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

 

LeBron James says there is no rivalry between him and Stephen Curry of Golden State. They are not Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird, Los Angeles vs. Boston. I disagree, and every playoff game played this post season by these two superstars has proven my point.

James is chasing another championship. He has three already to go with four NBA MVP trophies. Curry wants the championship back.

These two greats are different in terms of what they bring to the game. Their size and styles are miles apart, but their passion and fire and desire to win is as clear as day. And their teams win. Curry has two NBA MVP Awards back to back, including last year when he was a unanimous selection.

Curry scored 40 points in game one of the Western Conference Finals Sunday. The Warriors rallied from 25 points down and took advantage of a bad ankle sprain to San Antonio’s star Kawhi Leonard, who had 26 points when he left the game in the third quarter. The final score was 113-111 Warriors.

It was one of the mothers of all comebacks in NBA playoff history. Previously, when San Antonio led by 25 points or more in the regular season and playoffs under 20-year Head Coach Gregg Popovich, five-time NBA Championship coach of the Spurs, they were 316-0!

Golden State is now 9-0 in the playoffs; Cleveland is 8-0. Golden State and Cleveland have played the last two years in the NBA Finals. Two years ago the Warriors beat Cleveland four games to two in the NBA Finals.

LeBron James battles Draymond Green beneath the basket.

LeBron James battles Golden State’s Draymond Green

Last year, the Cavaliers rallied from down 3-1 to win a dramatic game seven at Golden State to snatch the crown, Cleveland’s first title of any kind in 54 years. Cleveland will play the game-seven winner between Boston and Washington Monday in the Eastern Conference Finals starting Wednesday.

Golden State rallied to beat the Spurs in game one. However, the Spurs were 2-1 vs. Golden State in the regular season. The Warriors are the winningest team in NBA regular season history over three years with one title to show for it so far: 67-73 and 67 wins, that’s 207 wins total.

Spurs have beaten the Warriors five times more than any other NBA team and had them down by 25 points Sunday until Leonard’s untimely injury. So it might be a bit premature to think the Spurs can’t slow down the Warriors and stop a potential Cleveland vs. Golden State three-peat in the NBA Finals.

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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GDG rundown for the weekend of May 5th-7th

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You know?  There hasn’t been a ton of baseball talk lately, let alone optimistic baseball talk.  Eric and Larry convene at the Downtown Minneapolis studio this week to fix that.  They go heavy into diamond chatter, including a major dose of the Twins.  And you don’t just hear from them.  Third baseman Miguel Sano and center fielder Byron Buxton have their say.  Plus, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale offers his perspective on the team, the division, and some ugly incidents in Boston this week.  Oh, and our hosts also get to the NBA Playoffs, the NFL Draft, and revenge on the mind of a former Vikings star.

Not All Twins are Riding High

Segment 1: The Twins wrapped up another successful series, despite losing to Oakland on Thursday.  The fellas look back on the wins that Monday and Tuesday brought.  Plus, how will Kyle Gibson respond after his demotion to Triple AAA ball in Rochester.

 

More Diamond Talk

Segment 2: We haven’t had our share of baseball talk this Spring, so it keeps going into this segment.  The guys take a page from yesteryear when they compare Byron Buxton with center fielders from the recent past.  They also chat about some legends in the MLB press box.

 

NBA Playoff Smorgasbord

Segment 3: The NBA has reached the second round of the postseason.  How good has this generation’s Isaiah Thomas been?  Eric and Larry give their take on Boston’s point guard.  Is LeBron James primed to lead another title run and top the record books?  Then, there’s no nightlife in Salt Lake City?  The Warriors believe so.

 

The Young Bucks: GDG Talks with Miguel Sano & Byron Buxton

Segment 4: We get back into Twins talk, this time on a first-hand basis.  Larry got to ask a few questions to young stars Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton.  After the interviews, our hosts assess the progress of this roster that features a youthful core and some cagey veterans.

 

Around the League: Bob Nightengale Broadens Our Horizons

Segment 5: So, what does USA Today’s Bob Nightengale think of the Twins?  We find out when he joins the program.  Plus, we get his thoughts on the rest of the AL Central contenders.  And he was front and center for the tense series between the Orioles and Red Sox.  He explains the frenzy surrounding what happened to O’s center fielder Adam Jones.

 

A.P.’s Get-Back and A Drafty Chat

Segment 6: Adrian Peterson is licking his chops for a chance to take on his former team.  But will that opener versus the Vikings be a successful one?  After that, the guys recap the Vikings’ scorecard and other tidbits from last weekend’s NFL Draft.

 

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Timberwolves should give KG some love

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By Eric Nelson

February 14, 2017

GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the tropical Twin Cities…

 

• Valentine’s Salute: Since it’s Valentine’s Day, it only seems fitting to bring up an athlete that Minnesota sports fans love – Kevin Garnett. KG is the greatest Timberwolves player ever, and brought unharnessed energy and pure passion to the floor every game. Garnett loved to play and Minnesota fans loved his desire and motivation…

•Hoops Breakup: After 22 NBA seasons (14 with the Wolves) Garnett is into year one of retirement. When Flip Saunders brought KG back to “Sota” in 2014, it appeared to be a storybook ending to a spectacular career. Garnett had come full circle and even had aspirations of becoming part-owner of the Wolves. But, all that changed when new HC Tom Thibodeau took over last summer and quickly sent Garnett packing. KG was treated more like a guy on a 10-day contract – instead of someone who will someday be in the Pro Basketball HOF and was part of eight straight playoff teams in Minnesota (1996-2004)…

•KG Night: Was the parting acrimonious? Possibly. Should the Wolves have handled Garnett’s departure better? Probably. But, the Association is a cold, cruel business and what’s done is done. However, what needs to be done is for Minnesota to bring Garnett back and have “KG night” at Target Center. Retire his number 21 Wolves jersey and throw a festive bash. Show KG some love…

•Bronze Tribute: When Target Center’s $150 million renovation is finished in November, Minnesota should put a KG statue outside the arena. Garnett’s resume (former MVP, 15 time All-Star and 12 time all defensive team) has earned him that kind of salute…

•Lovey-Dovey: Both the Timberwolves and the Wild are playing on Valentine’s night. Lebron James and the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers will be at Target Center, while the Anaheim Ducks go against former HC Bruce Boudreau at the Xcel Energy Center. The matchups have plenty of juice, but for obvious reasons, kiss-cam could be the highlight of the evening in both arenas…

•Missing Love: Former Wolves star Kevin Love has an injured left knee and will not play for the Cavs against  Minnesota. All of which means there will be no Love for Cleveland on Valentine’s Day…

•Triple Digit Streak: The good times continue for the U-Conn women’s basketball team. The top-ranked Huskies knocked off No. 6 South Carolina 66-55 Monday night for their 100th consecutive win. This is clearly one of the most impressive accomplishments in sports history and ranks right up there with UCLA’s 88-game winning streak from 1971-74…

•Just a Hunch: I am guessing that Tracy Claeys and Mark Coyle did not exchange Valentine’s cards this year…

•Raw Deal: The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that Claeys did not get a fair shake from the U of M. Despite dealing with off-the-field turbulence, Claeys and the Gophers were 9-4 last season and finished with an impressive Holiday Bowl win against Washington State. Claeys deserved better…

•Parade of Champions: If you’re keeping score at home, Boston has now celebrated 15 sports championships since 2001. The Patriots (5) lead the way followed by BC hockey (4), the Red Sox (3), Bruins (1), Celtics (1) and BU hockey (1). Winning titles is so common in Beantown, that Boston would be wise to add championship parade costs to the city budget…

•Skiers Mecca: Iconic Mt. Hood in Oregon has 29 feet of snow, which is 200 percent more than normal. All that powder should have skiers flocking to Hood…

 

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Gameday Gold Radio – May 4, 2017 – s.3

NBA Playoff Smorgasbord

Segment 3: The NBA has reached the second round of the postseason.  How good has this generation’s Isaiah Thomas been?  Eric and Larry give their take on Boston’s point guard.  Is LeBron James primed to lead another title run and top the record books?  Then, there’s no nightlife in Salt Lake City?  The Warriors believe so.