The Scoops: Switching conferences 'makes sense' for Wolves, owner says
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The Minnesota Wild were not the only local professional sports team pining the last few years for realignment -- a request that was finally granted officially on Thursday.
In a conversation with 1500ESPN.com, Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor acknowledged he would like to see his team in the Eastern Conference.
"It makes sense," he said.
But Taylor was quick to point out Memphis and New Orleans, two other Western Conference teams headquartered in the Central time zone, also want change.
In other words, Taylor -- who has as much intimate knowledge as anyone from his years as the chairman of the NBA's board of governors -- said it's not happening for any of the three franchises anytime soon.
He didn't say whether San Antonio, Houston, Dallas or Oklahoma City also would push for such a switch. They play in the Central time zone, too.
• Wolves director of operations Rob Babcock is a finalist for the Hamline University head coaching job. The former Toronto Raptors general manager hasn't coached since the mid-1980s.
• The Wolves were contacted by free agent guard Dominque Jones' camp, but they reported back they aren't interested in the 2010 first-round pick. The Wolves could create a 16th roster spot by applying for a hardship exception. Jones was recently let go by Dallas.
• The Wolves were not among the teams to watch free agent forward Donte Greene work out last weekend.
• The Wolves are also not among the teams to express interest in Euroleague forward Tony Gaffney. He got out of his contract with Joventut Badalona (Spain).
• The Wolves have not reached out to free agent guard Raja Bell.
• The Vikings have made calls on free agent defensive backs Antoine Cason (cornerback) and Gerald Sensabaugh (safety).
• Flip Saunders on his former Gophers teammate, guard Ray Williams: "Probably the best athlete to ever step on the floor at Williams Arena. ... He had colon cancer a while ago. He fought it and got over it, but now has a recurrence. He lives in Florida, but the New York Knicks (one of his former professional teams) air-bused him back to New York. He's in the hospital there. His family is there. Prayers are with him. Those who saw him play know how dynamic he was."
• Gophers senior associate athletic director Mike Ellis, who's in charge of the basketball team, on coach Tubby Smith's future: "We (athletic director Norwood Teague and I) do have a particular background in basketball. We will look at the past ... where we've been and where are we going sums it up. ... We do that with every program. ... It'll be a normal end of the year review. We'll see. We'll make some decisions and move forward."
• Smith will get a $100,000 bonus if the Gophers make the NCAA Tournament.
• Palm Beach State Juco assistant coach Ben Servidio on his player, former Texas commitment and 6-foot-9 forward Kevin Thomas: "Minnesota offered a scholarship to Kevin Thomas back in November, but due to Minnesota's needs at forward, they also recently indicated that they offered a scholarship to a freshman small forward with the same body type as Kevin's -- long, slender and can elevate. They still send mail constantly and are still interested, but they have put him on the backburner, it seems, for the time being. Kevin's recruitment has picked up in the last few months, receiving offers from Nebraska, Oregon State, Seton Hall and Western Kentucky."
• Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski was at Apple Valley High School earlier this week checking out junior guard Tyus Jones. Duke, like everyone else, wants Jones badly.
• Former Gophers quarterback/wide receiver MarQueis Gray, hoping to get picked in next month's NFL Draft, is learning to play tight end from ex-Gophers and six-year NFL veteran Ben Utecht. They've been working together at the Gibson-Nagurski Complex.
• The Twins will have a contingent at Friday night's Gophers-Indiana State game at the Metrodome. In fact, most teams are expected to have at least one scout in attendance. That's because Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea will start. He's expected to be a top-five pick in June's draft. Tom Windle (Osseo High School), another left-hander, will start for the Gophers. After an impressive summer in the Cape Cod League, he's a likely first-round pick as well.
• Free agent designated hitter Jim Thome is back home in Illinois after working out at Fischer Sports Conditioning in Phoenix. He's expected back in Phoenix next week. Word is Thome is still holding out for a major league contract. If he'd budge and accept a minor league deal, the Twins would have a ton of interest.
• The Twins scouted free agent pitcher Chien-Ming Wang's World Baseball Classic starts, but they have no intent to sign him as of now.
• Twins hitting coach Tom Brunansky and bench coach Terry Steinbach will take phone calls from season-ticket holders in a "fan forum" next week.
• Local TV ratings from Saturday for men 25-54: The Edina-Hill-Murray Class-AA boys hockey state championship game did a 5.0. The Timberwolves-Nuggets game did a 1.1. The Class-A game with St. Thomas Academy against Hermantown also had about five times the Wolves' audience.