Cole Aldrich has been subject of trade rumors that would ship the former University of Kansas center from his hometown Minnesota Timberwolves to a seventh team in eight NBA seasons.
The 6-foot-11, 28-year-old Bloomington, Minn., native, who is about to begin the second year of a three-year, $22 million deal with the Wolves, reportedly has been mentioned in talks with Indiana and New Jersey, and maybe others.
Aldrich — who has played for Oklahoma City, Houston, Sacramento, New York and the Los Angeles Clippers as well as the Timberwolves since leaving KU after his junior season in 2009-10 — might take comfort in the fact Timberwolves coach and team president Tom Thibodeau said Sunday on WCCO (830 AM) radio that Aldrich remains part of the Wolves’ plans.
“The thing is you have size, you need depth up front,” Thibodeau said to the radio station as reported in an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I think the way you have to build your team today is you need to have size and the ability to play small. You need to do both. So the quality depth up front is key.”
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Aldrich, who is ticketed to receive $7,300,000 this season, averaged 1.7 points and 2.5 rebounds a game in 62 games a year ago. He logged 8.6 minutes per game in his first season with the Wolves.
The Timberwolves have one other KU player on the roster in shooting guard Andrew Wiggins, who will earn $7,574,323 this season. Former KU wing Brandon Rush is an unrestricted free agent after playing with Minnesota last year. Rush turned 32 on Friday.
Former KU forward Perry Ellis is trying to earn a roster spot with the Timberwolves. He scored 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting with three rebounds on Sunday against Denver after failing to score in his summer league opener Saturday.
Fansided.com’s Jaime Tyler noted that Thibodeau sat under the Wolves’ basket the entire game with Golden State GM Bob Myers.
“Perry Ellis did not get the start in this game. I can’t blame Saunders (Ryan, summer coach) for giving some other players a look as Ellis did not look great in Saturday’s action,” Tyler wrote of Ellis’ 0-for-3 outing against Toronto.
“However, Ellis came in off the bench and redeemed himself. He hit a few long bombs, made some nice plays with Matt Costello, and generally seemed more confident in his decision-making throughout the contest,” Tyler added.
Mason, Fox in same backcourt
Former KU point guard Frank Mason of the Sacramento Kings is finding a similar situation in the NBA as he had in college, playing as part of a guard duo that is interchangeable at the 1 and 2 spots.
Second-round draft pick Mason, who played next to Devonté Graham at KU, in two Vegas summer league games has played several minutes next to first-round draft pick De’Aaron Fox.
“I like it, it’s a really good adjustment for me, for us,” Kings summer league coach Jason March told csnbayarea.com. “I could go with it for a longer amount of time, but we’ve got other guys out there.”
It was speculated by the website that if Fox can play the off guard, it might open some minutes for Mason, who will be competing for time with George Hill and Fox.
“I think we both create a lot of plays for our teammates,” Fox told csnbayarea.com. “We’re both quick and I think we play really well together.”
“We do a good job of playing off each other whenever we’re in there together,” Mason stated.
Mason averaged 5.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in his first two summer league games entering a Monday night game. He had six points, three rebounds and two assists in Sunday’s 81-75 loss to Wayne Selden’s Memphis Grizzlies. Former KU guard Selden scored 21 points with four assists and three steals for Memphis.
Jackson scores 20 on Monday
Former KU guard Josh Jackson scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds in the Phoenix Suns’ 99-94 loss to Houston on Monday in the Las Vegas summer league.
He hit 7 of 17 shots, including 2 of 4 three-pointers.
McLemore emotional after netting new deal
Bleacher Report was with Ben McLemore last week when the former KU wing heard from his agent that he’d secured a two-year deal worth $11 million with the Memphis Grizzlies.
McLemore played the previous four seasons with the Sacramento Kings.
“I was a little emotional. It’s a dream come true,” McLemore told Bleacher Report of learning he’d be playing for Memphis, which is just 280 miles from his hometown of St. Louis.
“It’s a great opportunity for me and my family and a new beginning.”
KU recruiting Serbian center
KU is recruiting Balsa Koprivica, a 7-foot-1 high school junior-to-be who will be playing at Windermere (Fla.) Prep this season, Rivals.com and Zagsblog.com reported.
“UCLA, Kansas, Baylor, Miami, Florida, USC, Louisville, Florida State, Wake Forest and Arizona. Those are the schools talking to me the most often over here (in his homeland of Serbia, where he’s playing for the Serbian Under-18 team this summer),” Koprivica, the No. 5-ranked player in the recruiting class of 2019 told Rivals.com.
He’s also heard from Texas, Oregon, Arizona State and others.
Brad Augustine, coach of the adidas-sponsored 1 Family AAU team, has compared Koprivica to Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol.
“Balsa has the chance to be one of those once-in-a-generation-type players,” Augustine told Zagsblog.com. “He’s 7-1 with an impressive frame and has the footwork of a polished wing performer. His IQ and understanding of the game, coupled with his Euro experience give him a large advantage over the traditional American player.”