MINNEAPOLIS – Anthony Tolliver’s uncertain days in the Timberwolves’ training facility have come to an end.
The former Timberwolves forward tweeted from his personal account, @ATolliver44, on Tuesday morning, confirming a report that he’s signed with the Atlanta Hawks for the 2011-12 season. The free agent spent the summer training in Minnesota, and he was working out with the team as recently as earlier this month, still hoping for a deal.
But after the Timberwolves signed forward Louis Amundson on Monday (the team confirmed it Tuesday afternoon), those chances seemed to be shot. Amundson will fill the backup power forward position that Tolliver would have occupied on the Timberwolves’ roster, and less than 24 hours after the announcement that the former Pacer would head to Minnesota, Tolliver is gone.
With their current contract obligations, the Timberwolves are only able to offer veteran’s minimum contracts at this point, and Tolliver was hoping for a deal that closer approximated his previous two-year contract with Minnesota. The terms of his deal with the Hawks are not known at this time.
In his two years in Minnesota, Tolliver averaged 6.7 and then 4.1 points per game. His playing time fell off in 2011-12, but Tolliver was still a solid presence in the locker room and a consistent contributor off of the bench. In Atlanta, he’ll compete for minutes with Al Horford, Ivan Johnson and Mike Scott, and he has an opportunity for increased playing time on a team that has begun a rebuilding process.
No doubt the Timberwolves are sorry to see Tolliver go, but obviously the two parties couldn’t agree to the terms of a deal. He’s the kind of player you can’t help but wish well.
In other Timberwolves news, Kevin Love returned to Minnesota last week and made his first formal media appearance Tuesday. He had a lot to say, much of which is already posted in a separate story, and he brought his gold medal. Here are a few extra tidbits from Love’s comments:
Monday in practice, the power forward had to guard Nikola Pekovic for five games. It was his first time going up against the somehow slimmer and stronger center, and he was impressed.
“In the second game I was already tired,” Love said. “My shots were short. My shots were long. I mean, he’s really in shape running the floor. Having to guard him down there is tough.”
“If anything, he’s stronger, more agile. It’s just crazy watching him do work down there.”
“I don’t know what he’s on. First of all, it’s not illegal substances. But whatever they’re lifting over there in Montenegro, they’re unbelievably strong. I don’t know what he’s eating, either.”
Love also discussed his relationship with Ricky Rubio:
“We’ve just been keeping in constant contact. That’s what we do. we kind of let each other chill… for a little bit, and we’ll constantly stay in contact. But during the season, we’re like this (crosses his fingers).”
Love also made news Tuesday for a big purchase: 500 tickets to Friday night’s Lynx playoff game against the Seattle Storm. Starting Tuesday at 8 a.m., fans were able to call in and reserve a maximum of two of Love’s upper-level seats. Love himself will also be at the game, sitting courtside and supporting the Lynx.
It’s a big statement for as public of a figure as Love to endorse the Lynx, and head coach Cheryl Reeve acknowledged that it can only be a good thing for the team and the league. Love’s idea definitely got more word out about the game to a wider audience, and his support is yet another example of the Lynx’s growing appeal in the Twin Cities.
Love got a closer look at the Lynx this summer at the Olympics, where he was able to form closer relationships with Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus. With the nature of the WNBA and NBA seasons and the fact that they don’t overlap, Love doesn’t have a ton of time in Minnesota to meet the Lynx. He’s known Moore since they were both top high school players, but other than that, he was always more familiar with the women on the court than personally.
In London, though, that changed, and he had a chance to spend time with the three Lynx Olympians. They haven’t talked since, but Love can’t say enough about the talent on the team with which he shares an arena.
“Between Seimone, Maya and Lindsay, we had a great time,” Love said of London. “We were able to hang out with them off the court. I mean, they’re awesome. They’re really awesome. I got to see them play, got to see them win their gold medal the night before we played. It was just a special time for all of us. Those women are really cool.”
The Timberwolves worked out again in their practice facility on Tuesday, with the majority of the team in attendance. That included Lou Amundson, whose signing was announced Monday. Shved, whom Love compared favorably to Rubio in terms of his on-court moves and how fun he is to watch, was present, along with other new faces like Dante Cunningham and Greg Stiemsma. Andrei Kirilenko has not yet arrived in the Twin Cities.