Notebook: Robinson ‘glad’ to be signed, in Minnesota for training camp
MINNEAPOLIS — The second-round picks on the lower end of Minnesota’s vast forward food chain got their money.
Starting Monday, they began trying to prove they deserve it.
During a topsy-turvy offseason when Kevin Love and the Timberwolves’ haul in return for him soaked up headlines — and justifiably so — the Twin Cities’ NBA franchise gave out a pair of guaranteed contracts. Robbie Hummel was serviceable in his first NBA season, but it registered as a surprise when Minnesota brought him back on a one-year deal before trading Love or signing any other free agents. And Glenn Robinson III, this year’s second-round selection, though highly touted and athletic, was thought to have much to prove at training camp.
Naw, the front office said. We’ll take you now, on a partially guaranteed accord.
The two former Big Ten swingmen were even a little taken aback.
"I was a little surprised, I think, but I was glad it happened," said Hummel, who inked an $880,000 deal July 21 — more than a month before Love was traded. "I wanted to be back in Minneapolis. I wanted to be part of this team, so it was a good day when that all got done."
Said Robinson, whose rookie deal was officially announced Wednesday: "I talked to my agents and we were ready for all possible options; I’m just glad things worked out the way they did. I’m glad to be here."
Hummel, 25, mostly came off the bench in specific situations last year, averaging 3.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 12.4 minutes in 53 contests. His 3-point mark of 36 percent and 9.7 boards per 48 minutes were enough to convince Saunders and general manager Milt Newton he was worth another shot — even with the rest of the roster hanging in the balance amid rampant Love trade rumors.
"He proved to us that he can play in the league and he can provide some shooting, something that we definitely need to loosen things up in the middle," Newton said of Hummel, who tore the same ACL twice at Purdue before being drafted in 2012 and spending 2012-13 in Spain. "He’s a no-mistake player, and we thought that he would be a good addition."
A "first-round talent" by Saunders’ standards, Robinson started all 76 games of his two-year collegiate career at Michigan. The Wolves drafted him 40th overall this summer and watched closely as he averaged 7.7 points and three rebounds per game at the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League.
After conferring with owner Glen Taylor, Newton said, he and Saunders decided not to wait until during or after training camp to sign the son of former pro Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson. He’s the team’s 16th guaranteed contract; NBA clubs can only have 15 players on their active roster, meaning at least one of them — several signs point to point guard J.J. Barea — could be on the way out.
"There’s a reason why we drafted him," Newton said. "We know that we wanted to show him that he is on our plans but it’s a situation where he’s going to have to earn it."
The same goes for Hummel, who along with Robinson is part of a small-forward logjam that includes returning starter Corey Brewer, 2014 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins and 2013 first-round draft pick Shabazz Muhammad.
The pair wrapped up Thursday their fourth workout of the week alongside Wiggins, fellow rookie Zach LaVine and a pair of training-camp invitees in Kyrylo Fesenko and Brady Heslip. The group has been working on conditioning and some basic offensive sets for Saunders’ new system.
Training camp begins Sept. 30 at Minnesota State’s Bresnan Arena in Mankato, Minn.
Training-camp roster set: The Timberwolves signed Fesenko and Heslip to training camp contracts this week, bringing the total roster count to 18.
That’s where it will stay until cut-downs begin, Newton said.
Both Fesenko and Heslip joined Minnesota for summer-league play this year. Fesenko has spent parts of five seasons in the NBA, most recently a three-game stint with Indiana in 2011-12.
Heslip is an undrafted rookie who shot 43.7 percent from 3-point range for Baylor last season.
Teams have until Oct. 27 to set their opening-day rosters at 15.
Home cooking: Wiggins and LaVine, both 19-year-old rookies, knew living away from home at such a young age was going to be an adjustment.
To ease the transition, they brought home with them.
Both first-round selections revealed Thursday their families have relocated to the Twin Cities to be near their sons. LaVine’s family moved into an apartment in the same complex as him, while Wiggins’ folks found a place close by his dwelling.
"At 19, I’d be out here on my own a little bit, but when I’m bored sometimes, I can go up to my parents’ apartment, watch a movie or something like that, kick it with them, have my mom make dinner, so it’s definitely really good to have my family still up here," said LaVine, who has three sisters.
Said Wiggins, one of six children: "It’s always great. . . . I can’t cook; my mom can cook, so whenever I need food, I can go to their house."
Veteran moves: Brewer and fellow veteran Kevin Martin worked out with the aforementioned Timberwolves youngsters Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday but have since returned home to pack some final belongings before settling back into the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for good.
The rest of Minnesota’s players are expected to arrive by the middle of next week. The team’s annual media day is Monday, Sept. 29, followed by a "Midnight Madness"-style "Dunks After Dark" event that night at Bresnan Arena that kicks off training camp.
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