Notebook: Wesley Johnson anticipates active role in new Wolves offense
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The theme of the Minnesota Timberwolves' training camp has been change.
New coaching staff. New faces. New culture.
Wesley Johnson said he noticed the shift in attitude under Rick Adelman before the team even took the practice court for the first time.
"We sensed (the change) when we first got into Target Center for the first day of practice. We had to change," Johnson said. "(Rick) said it was going to be totally different year."
Johnson said Adelman and his coaching staff had complete statistical breakdowns for each player as well as the entire team, directly pointing out just how poor the Wolves were a season ago when they finished with the worst record in the NBA.
"I think we needed that," Johnson said. "We didn't need to be patted on the back too much. We needed all the tough love we can get."
Johnson said the biggest changes will come on the defensive end, where the team will play a more aggressive, physical brand of defense under Adelman.
For Johnson, though, the biggest benefits will come on offense, where he will play a more active role -- rather than just being the "stationary shooter" he said he was his rookie season under Kurt Rambis.
"This year, I have been more assertive, just attacking the basket a lot more," Johnson said.
And that is exactly what Adelman wants out of the sophomore.
"What we are trying to get him to do is not be just a jump-shooter," Adelman said. "He is very athletic. I want to see him make hard cuts, try to get easy baskets rather than just jump shots. If he runs the floor and makes his cuts, we will eventually find him there."
A lack of aggressiveness and inability to put the ball on the floor were the biggest critiques of Johsnon's up-and-down rookie season, in which he averaged nine points a game in 63 starts but struggled to find any sort of consistency.
He believes a full offseason of work, the new offense and playing his more natural two position will help him get back to the style of basketball that made him the 2010 Big East player of the year at Syracuse and prompted the Wolves to take him with the No. 4 overall pick in the draft.
"I see myself fitting in well," Johnson said. "Just being more relaxed out there and a lot more cutting so I am back to my old self.
Path cleared for Barea
The deal was only the latest confirmation the Wolves have reached an agreement with guard J.J. Barea.
Although the team has yet to confirm anything, Barea appeared on the team's roster on their official website Monday night before being pulled down, and Barea himself posted on Twitter that he was on his way to Minneapolis.
By shipping the No. 30 overall pick from last season's NBA Draft to the Thunder, the Wolves are back down to 15 guaranteed contracts on the roster when you count Barea.
"I think (Barea) will help us out a lot," Johnson said. "Him getting into the paint and finding guys and his quickness -- I think it is going to be a tremendous help. That's one less guard we have to worry about running around."
Said Love, "He will fit well. A veteran guy, comes from a championship team. I think that's what we are looking for now more than anything, veteran leadership."
All signs point to Barea being introduced officially as a member of the team at some point before Saturday's exhibition opener against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Malcolm Lee guaranteed
Rookie Malcolm Lee was back on the court on Tuesday after sitting out Monday's practice while his contract was worked out.
The deal he signed on Monday is a rarity for a second-round pick -- three years guaranteed.
"It means a lot to me," Lee said. "I am aware that it is rare for a pick in the second-round (to be given guaranteed money), I am just real fortunate to be a Wolf."
Lee was taken No. 43 overall in the NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls in June and ended up a Timberwolf after multiple trades.
Adelman said he has been impressed with Lee's work ethic and likes the fact he is a versatile guard.
"I think he has impressed all the coaches," Adelman said. "He can play the one, two, very aggressive, good defender. He has to learn what it takes to play the point in this league but overall he is just a versatile player and just plays hard."